For the first time, research based on experimental data has connected Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use to increased depression and loneliness.
The study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, recruited a group of 143 undergraduates to participate. They were divided into two groups - one group was told to continue using social media as they always have, and a second “control group” had to limit their time on the top 3 social media apps - Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat - to 10 minutes per platform per day.
So how did they track usage and the effects of that usage? In order for the researchers to accurately measure these across both groups, the participants were required to take a survey on their well-being at the beginning of the study. They also had to provide screenshots of their iPhone battery screens to show how much social media they consumed prior to the study.
The research team then looked at outcome measures like fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. By the end of the study, they found that using less social media significantly decreased depression and loneliness.
This might sound ironic - but it makes sense when you consider a concept called social comparison. Social comparison is basically what we do when we compare our own lives to what other people depict about THEIR lives on social media - particularly Instagram.
So what do these findings mean for you and your loved ones? Well, try to limit your exposure to social comparison. Social media makes it too easy to conclude that everyone’s life is cooler than your own, which just isn’t the case.
So what do you think? Do these findings make you want to limit your own social media usage? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to head over to watch our series Debunking Depression: Harnessing Your Hardwired Nature to Be Happy with psychiatrist Dr. Sue Varma.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.