Excessive use of social media including Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram is associated with poor well-being which could lead to depression and loneliness, researchers have warned.
The study, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, showed that limiting screen time on these apps could boost one's wellness.
"When you are not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you are actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life," said Melissa Hunt from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
For the study, researchers from the varsity included 143 undergraduate participants. The team designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with the participants. They collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running in the background, and asked respondents to complete a survey to determine mood and well-being.
The participants were then randomly assigned to a control group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behaviour, or an experimental group that limited time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to 10 minutes per platform per day. In addition, the participants shared iPhone battery screenshots for the next three weeks to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual. The team then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
The results showed that using less social media than you normally would lead to a significant decrease in both depression and loneliness. However, young people aged between 18 to 22 should not stop using social media altogether, suggested the findings.
"Because these tools are here to stay, it is incumbent on society to figure out how to use them in a way that limits damaging effects," Hunt noted.
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