Social media is everywhere today; it is almost hard to avoid social media at any point during the day. Even if you do not directly use social media, you probably are not only aware of it, but you know how significant it is in this world, today.
And if you are not using social media, that might actually be good for your health. At least, that is what a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests. Researchers at the institution have investigated what role social media actually plays on our happiness. Sure, we know that staying informed and sharing our lives are both fun pastimes, in the passive way that social media allows us to do so, but does our overall happiness require social media participation?
Indeed some studies argue that social media can increase anxiety symptoms in some people. Other studies even suggest that Facebook use, specifically, has been associated with a decline in overall well-being. And a Pew Research Center study from 2015 discerned that social media use can make you feel more stressed—even if you deliberately use it as an outlet for stress.
To learn more about this, the researchers in this study asked 143 University of Pennsylvania students to limit their total social media time by 30 minutes a day (across Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, evenly). At the beginning and end of four weeks, these students completed a wellbeing survey to rate things like anxiety, depression, social support access, self-esteem, loneliness, and fear of missing out (aka “FOMO”).
The study found that those students who had strictly limited their social media time demonstrated notably lower levels of loneliness. Furthermore, those students who had reported high rates of depression at the start of the start and restricted their social media use saw a “clinically significant” reduction in those symptoms.
Of course, social media use has many benefits. It allows us to directly connect with the people we care about most. It allows us to stay connected and informed about organizations and outreach that matters to us. It allows us to share our lives with other and share in the lives of others: something that is particularly useful for disabled people and those in certain communities that might otherwise find obstacles to developing healthy social circles.
All things considered, the researchers conclude that “limiting social media usage does have a direct and positive impact on subjective wellbeing over time,” and this is especially true for loneliness and depression.