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“This study complements the growing body of causal evidence that brief interruptions in using social media can have a positive impact on well-being and depression.” – according to scientists Dr. Jeffrey Lambert et al. from the British University of Bath in a research paper published in early May.
More and more people use social media
In the UK, the proportion of adults using social media was 71 percent in 2021, up from 45 percent ten years ago. Among those aged 16 to 44, the proportion is as high as 90 to 97 percent. Lambert et al. in his study “Taking a weekly break on social media improves mood, depression and anxiety: a randomized controlled trial”). The high percentages show that the influence of social media is important to an increasing proportion of the population. For this reason, the research team conducted a study with a total of 154 participants to investigate how non-use of social media affects well-being.
The effects of the dismissal were recorded using questionnaires
The condition for participation in the study was a minimum age of 18 and regular use of social media in everyday life – in this case Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. The average age of the participants was 29.6 years, before taking part in the study, they used Facebook and the company eight hours a week.
First, all participants had to complete a questionnaire that systematically recorded well-being, fears and symptoms of depression. They were then divided into two groups, one asked to stay away from social media for a week and the other asked not to change their habits. At the end of the week, participants were required to submit their screen usage statistics and complete surveys again.
Participants had better results after just one week of abstinence
Outcome: While not all participants in the group that were supposed to do without social media adhered to abstinence and still spent an average of 21 minutes on Facebook and the company, their values for well-being, anxiety, and depression symptoms were significantly better than the group that continued was normally using social media.
According to the researchers in their article, this corresponds to the results of many other studies that have dealt with similar things. However, conflicting results also emerged: researchers Zahir et al. observed in 2019 that not using social media may well increase feelings of loneliness. Lambert et al. According to her, it is possible that the results of her own research were falsified by the recruitment method – if, for example, people who were very open to everyday life without social media and little dependent on constant contribution participated in it. Nevertheless, the result is promising.
Scientists are expanding their research and testing other factors
The research group now wants to expand the study and find out if different groups of the population cope differently with the slowing of social media use and how the data changes if participants do not log on to different platforms for more than a week.
But: Those who suffer from depression or severe anxiety shouldn’t rely on managing their symptoms just by not using social media. Mental illnesses existed even before Facebook & Co. and their treatment requires professional help in most cases.
Olga Rogler / Editor of finanzen.net
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