Stop using social media for a week to improve mental health

THE ESSENTIAL

  • In the UK, the number of adults using social media has increased from 45% in 2011 to 71% in 2021.
  • Among 16-44 year olds, 97% perform on these platforms and scrolling is the most frequently practiced online activity.

What are the effects of stopping the use of social networks? This is the question posed by researchers at the University of Bath in England (United Kingdom). To answer this, they conducted a study, the results of which were published in the journal Behavior in cyberpsychology and social networks May 3. “We also sought to understand whether the time spent on the different platforms really had an impact on the relationship between no longer going on social networks and well-being, depression and anxiety”the authors said.

For the purposes of their work, they recruited 154 people aged 18 to 72. They divided them into two groups. Scientists asked members of the first group not to check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for a week. The other participants did not change their habits and continued to use social networks. At the start of the study, baseline scores for anxiety, depression, and well-being were noted. Volunteers also reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on these platforms.

Take a break from social media to feel better

Seven days after the start of this experiment, participants who took a break from social media for a week showed significant improvements in well-being, depression and anxiety compared to those who had to use social media , suggesting a short-term benefit. According to the results, volunteers who left these platforms for seven days said they used social networks for an average of 21 minutes, compared to seven hours for control subjects.

“Study shows asking people to stop using social media for a week leads to improved mental health,” can we read in the searches. Now, the team wants to follow participants for more than a week, to see if the benefits persist over time. If so, she thinks this method could in the future be part of clinical solutions used to help manage mental health.

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