New Study Links Social Media Usage To Depression & Loneliness

Depression? Loneliness? Limit your social media use, study says

Give up Facebook if you want to reduce depression, says study

A more diverse population, for instance, or including more social media platforms. For example, higher use of Facebook has been associated with lower self-esteem and greater loneliness, and higher use of Instagram has been tied to issues with body image, it said.

"We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid", said psychologist Dr. Melissa G. Hunt, associate director of clinical training in Penn's Psychology Department.

Unlike a control group, which was tasked with performing their usual social media activities, the experimental group was limited to using the three aforementioned social media sites to 10 minutes per day.

At the end of the study, it was found that the group, which restricted their social media usage, showed a substantial decline in depression and loneliness as compared to the other group.

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For the study, the team included 118 female undergraduate students from diverse ethnic backgrounds aged 18 to 27 years old.

The researchers acknowledge the limited nature of their study and suggest numerous directions for colleagues in the field to take it from here.

He described the findings as "important", noting that "because of its experimental design, this study goes an important step further [than prior research] in showing that actively reducing social media use can be helpful". "Indeed, some subjects noted that they spent a lot more time on dating apps, perhaps as the result of limiting other platforms", it pointed out.

They arrived at that conclusion after monitoring 143 social media users over the course of three weeks. They also had to complete surveys that focused on their mental heart and surveyed a large variety of factors, including their levels of depression, anxiety and fear.

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'The results from our experiment strongly suggest that limiting social media usage does have a direct and positive impact on subjective well-being over time, especially with respect to decreasing loneliness and depression, ' explained the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it's not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. Those are questions she still hopes to answer, including in an upcoming study about the use of dating apps by college students. Psychologists from the University of Pennsylvania in the US have come to the conclusion that the prolonged use of social networks can lead to depression.

For one, reduce opportunities for social comparison, she says.

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