Many of us are guilty of opening social media apps the moment we open our eyes each day.
But while it is tempting to constantly scroll through Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for updates, the negative impact such behaviour can have on mental health has been well documented.
However, for those finding that their wellbeing is suffering as a result of social media, the answer may be as simple as switching phones and devices off and popping them out of sight.
Researchers from the University of Bath have reported that taking just one week off social media improved individuals’ overall level of well-being, as well as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
“We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits,” said lead researcher Dr Jeff Lambert. “Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact.”
“Of course, social media is a part of life and for many people, it’s an indispensable part of who they are and how they interact with others,” he continued. “But if you are spending hours each week scrolling and you feel it is negatively impacting you, it could be worth cutting down on your usage to see if it helps.”
For the study, the researchers allocated over 150 individuals aged 18 to 72 who used social media every day into either an intervention group where they were banned from the apps or a control group.
After the experiment, participants asked to take a one-week break reported using social media for an average of 21 minutes compared to an average of seven hours for those in the control group.
Full study findings have been published in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.