Scientists said if the social network for health

Ebony Scott
November 17, 2018

"The main finding of the paper is that limiting your use of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to 30 minutes total or less per day results in reductions in depression and loneliness, especially for people who were moderately depressed to start with", said study author Melissa Hunt, who is the associate director of clinical training in the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Our study can not speak directly to why this happens", she stressed.

"It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely", she says. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that's allowed to do whatever they want. The study notes that while researchers were able to monitor the use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on mobile phones of the students, they could still use the platforms on their desktop (except for Snapchat) or on phones of their friends, which could not be monitored. The researchers added that limiting social media usage to "approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being".

3 weeks later the students were inquired for judging their mental status throughout the seven categories which included-autonomy and self-acceptance, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, social support, fear of missing out (FOMO) and loneliness. "They felt worse about their own appearance after looking at social media pages of someone that they perceived to be more attractive than them". Some scores did not see improvement, such as self-esteem and social support. Also, Twitter was not a part of the study, and users could have used that as well, slightly tarnishing the reports. Perceived social validation can act as a trigger, when, in fact, the comments of strangers are meaningless when considered in any real sense.

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The research study has featured in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology. This isn't the first study to look at the potential connection between social media use and negative moods like depression.

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it's not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. "Thirty minutes of use may be spent connecting with loved ones, or it may focus instead on having aggressive interactions about hot-button issues".

Interestingly, although the Pennsylvania study reveals that we do have less FOMO when we reduce social media usage, it doesn't explain why.

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