Study suggests time out on social media boosts mental health

It is no secret that too much social media can harm one’s mental health. Now, research suggests that taking a short break from TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

British researchers report that being off social media for a week meant, for some study participants, getting around nine hours of free time, which improved their well-being.

“If you feel like you’re using a lot of social media and it’s taking a toll on your mental health, taking a break may be worth a try and give you at least some short-term improvement,” said study author Jeff Lambert, Associate Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Bath.

These findings could have implications for how people manage their mental health, Lambert said, providing another option for people to try. “However, more research is needed to examine the long-term effects and whether they are appropriate in a clinical context,” he added.

For the study, researchers randomly selected 154 people between the ages of 18 and 72 who use social media every day, and asked them to either stop using all social media for a week or continue using them as usual. People in the study spent an average of eight hours per week on social media.

The study found that those who took a break from social media had significantly improved well-being, depression and anxiety, compared to those who continued to use social media.

Those who took a week’s break used social media for an average of 21 minutes, compared to about seven hours among those who did not, Lambert said.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Cyber ​​Psychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Dr. Scott Krakauer, a psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York City, believes that for some people, social media can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety because they compare themselves to others on these sites.

“They may feel inappropriate because they are not like those people they interact with,” he said. “You know nothing about them, yet you still know a lot of information and you may feel left out because of some of the things someone else is doing that triggers feelings of inadequacy and lowered self-esteem.”

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Krakauer doesn’t think giving up social media entirely is necessarily the best strategy for people with negative emotions. He believes that it is best to develop a plan to manage social media use, which may include reducing going to these sites or taking regular short breaks.

“I think that if you have a doubt that depression [and] The anxiety comes from being online or feeling upset by looking at the things you notice in social media that are hindering your performance, I think you need to take a break, even if it’s a day or two days, and see how you can do without it,” he said. Krakur.

“I don’t think you should stop completely unless you feel like you are totally addicted to it, but I think you need to watch it,” Krakauer said.

Another expert said staying away from social media is not the answer, but rather learning how to use these sites in healthy ways.

“While abstinence may indeed improve well-being, it may not be realistic, feasible, or even desirable in the long run,” said Melissa Hunt, associate director of clinical training in the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Psychology.

“Ultimately, our goal should focus on harm reduction using these platforms, not abstentions,” she said. “These platforms have become an important part of the daily lives of most people under the age of 30. The real challenge is to help people use the platforms intelligently and adaptively.”

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