A new study adds strength to reports that claim social media use is linked to symptoms of depression and loneliness.
The study conducted by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has found that excessive time spent on social networking websites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat cause depression and loneliness in people.
For the purpose of the study, the research team monitored the daily social media use of 143 participants for a week, as well as their levels of a range of mental health factors like depression and loneliness. The participants were split into two separate groups for the following three weeks. The participants of one group were allowed to use Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat for only 10 minutes each per day, which restricted their social media usage to 30 minutes daily.
The second group had no restrictions imposed, meaning that the participants were free to use the platforms as much as they wanted. They all continued tracking the same mental health factors during the three weeks as well.
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.
“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.
Based on these findings, the researchers warned social media users about the effect that these platforms could have on their well-being. They have advised social media users to spend more time in the real world for their mental well being.
The research study has featured in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology.