Using social media for only 10 minutes a day actually improves your mood
Reducing social media use to as little as 10 minutes per day could lead to a decrease in loneliness and depression, a new study has found.
The study “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression” conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that, as you’d imagine from the title, cutting down time spent on social media leads to an increase in mental wellbeing.
Monitoring 143 undergraduates of the university, researchers tasked participants with only using 10 minutes each of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram per day. A control group was told to retain their usual social media usage. This went on for three weeks, whereupon both groups were monitored to understand the effects of these divergent uses.
Researchers validated users’ time limitations thanks to iOS 12’s Screen Time function, which can chart daily and weekly activities on various apps and app types.
The group limited to 10 minutes on each social media platform per day reported noticeably reduced feelings of loneliness and depression compared to the control group. Researchers believe this shows that limiting social media usage to this degree can have a direct impact on mental wellbeing.
Interestingly, all participants — including the control group — reported a decrease in anxiety and fear of missing out, or being excluded from social events, over the three weeks. This suggests that self-monitoring social media usage has some benefits, although not as large as actively cutting down on time online.
Two of the three social media platforms monitored are image-based and the third, Facebook, also has a large visual component. Although the actual impact of images on the mental well-being of participants wasn’t checked, a recent study did show that usage of image-based social media does leads to increased narcissistic tendencies among young people.
Unfortunately, the jury’s still out on whether social media is the font of human misery, or actually a necessary evil. A study earlier this year found that extended periods of time away from social media actually lead to a decline in life satisfaction. Perhaps, as the UPenn study suggests, balance is necessary — it concludes that limiting social media time to around 30 minutes a day could be a plausible benchmark to increase mental wellbeing.