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A Healthier You

New Studies Show Just How Bad Social Media Is For Mental Health

04/05/2019

(Forbes) – Some people may be starting to come to grips with the fact that social media isn’t so great for mental health. Others may think that getting on it will give them a boost—but especially depending on how you spend your time on it, you may well feel worse after using. Plenty of studies have found correlations between higher social media use and poorer mental health, including depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation, lower self-esteem, and even suicidality.

But two new studies underline this reality by showing not just correlation, but causation—in other words, that tweaking your time on social media actually has measurable effects on mental health.

The first study, carried out at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, asked 140 undergraduates to either continue their regular use of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, or to limit each one to 10 minutes per day (30 minutes total). The participants also provided data from their phones to show precisely how much time they were actually spending on the apps, rather than relying on memory, which can be unreliable.

Before and after the “intervention,” the participants also filled out questionnaires so the researchers could understand how they were doing psychologically—they were particularly interested in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and the famous “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.

As the researchers expected, people who limited their social media use to 30 minutes felt significantly better after the three-week period, reporting reduced depression and loneliness, especially those who came into the study with higher levels of depression. Interestingly, both groups reported less FOMO and less anxiety in the end, which the team suggests may just be a resulting benefit of increased self-monitoring.

Read the full story at forbes.com


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