Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Limiting social media to 10 minutes a day can improve mental health

Limiting social media to 10 minutes a day can improve mental health

A new study by USA researchers has proven for the first time the causal connection between social media use and decreased mental health. But the study authors concluded that limiting social media use to about 30 minutes per day may lead to significantly better well-being.

Could you limit your social network use to just 10 minutes a day?

This isn't the first study to show that social media use and loneliness or depression are correlated, but this is the first one that says there is an actual causal link.

Researchers found that those who for three weeks has reduced the use of social networking, began to feel less alone, regardless of the initial level. 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.

A study involving 143 students showed that reducing time of use of social networking to 30 minutes a day reduces the feeling of loneliness and symptoms of depression.

The research comes from UPenn psychologist Melissa G. Hunt and a research team. Overall, these studies were not designed well as they would ask a participant to completely forego Facebook, rely on self-report data, or conduct the activities in a lab in as little time as an hour. These effects were more prominently observed among the students who came into the study already having depression.

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But, they had a choice of limiting their usage or to continue using the apps as they generally did. The volunteers also shared more screenshots of their iPhone battery screens. An Oregon Health & Science University Study found that military veterans were said to experience mental health issues 50 percent less if they spent more time around loved ones over those who socialized mostly online.

There's more on social media use and depression risk at RAND Corp.

"Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there's an enormous amount of social comparison that happens".

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it's not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms. They also state that it would not make people feel less wanted or less socially accepted.

But the restrictions had no impact on feelings of social support, self-esteem or one's overall sense of well-being.

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