Cutting Social Media Time Can Lessen Depression And Loneliness: Study

By Cassie Owens
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new study focuses on the effects social media on mental health. In this particular study, limiting time on social media didn’t have much of an influence on anxiety or self-acceptance, but after three weeks, students who limited their time on the apps scored lower on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. For students with depression, symptoms declined by the end of the trial.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

If you were considering going on a social media diet, new research backs up the benefits.

According to a paper in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology’s December issue, tightening Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use can lower loneliness and depression.

University of Pennsylvania psychologist Melissa G. Hunt led the study, which surveyed 143 students at Penn.

Researchers divided the undergrads into groups that limited social media use and groups that continued to use the platforms as they pleased. Participants, who were predominately female, were offered academic credit for their time.

The study did not ask students to abstain from social media. The researchers explained this choice in the paper, noting, “It is unrealistic to expect young people to forgo this information stream entirely.”

Rather, the students who were cutting their screen time kept to 10 minutes on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat each day, no more than a half-hour on all platforms combined.

The social media diets didn’t have much of an influence on anxiety or self-acceptance, but after three weeks, students who limited their time on the apps scored lower on the UCLA Loneliness Scale. For students with depression, symptoms declined by the end of the trial.

A Cigna study released this year found that 41 percent of people in the Philadelphia area, and nearly half of Americans, are experiencing loneliness.

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