Taking a break from social media improves psychological well-being, depression and anxiety

Nowadays, a large part of the population uses at least one social network. In fact, most people with a smartphone access their profiles on several of these platforms. However, using them too much can affect us and, according to a study, a break of a week can improve psychological well-being.

This has been shown by a study of the University of Bath, in England, which asked the participants to they will stop using their social networks for a week. In that time, scientists saw significant improvements in their well-being, depression, and anxiety.

For some of these participants, being part of this research meant releasing oreight hours of your time throughout the week. That is the period that they invested in platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok in those seven days.

For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 154 people between 18 and 72 years old who used social media every day in an intervention group, where they were asked to stop using all social media for one week, or in a control group, where they could continue to scroll as normal. At the start of the study, scores were taken from reference for anxiety, depression and wellness.

Differences in just one week

Participants reported spending an average of eight hours a week on social media at the beginning of the study. One week later, participants who were asked to take a week-long break from these platforms had significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety, compared with those who continued to use social media, suggesting a short term benefit.

Also, participants who were asked to leave social media for one week reported using it for 21 minutes afterwards, compared to eight hours for the control group. To verify their stories, the researchers used the screen usage statistics of the smartphones of each participant.

The results were published in the US journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, and lead researcher Jeff Lambert was pleased with the result. “We know that the use of social media is huge and that there are growing concerns about its effects on mental health, so with this study we wanted to see if simply asking people to take a week’s break could lead to mental health benefits,” he told his college.

“Many of our participants reported positive effects of being off social media with a better mood and less anxiety in general. This suggests that even a short break can have an impact,” Lambert continued.

Looking to the future, the research team intends to take advantage of the study to find out whether to take a break from these platforms helps different population groups equallysuch as young people or people with physical and mental health problems.

Likewise, the group also wants to carry out a tracing of those people for more than a weekto see if the short-term benefits extend over time.

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