A new study finds that cutting your time on social media to 30 minutes a day reduces your risk of depression and loneliness

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  • A new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that limiting one’s social media usage to 30 minutes per day can lead to significant improvements in your well-being.
  • Specifically, less time on social media can lower rates of depression and loneliness.
  • The study is one of the first to show a cause-and-effect relationship between social media usage and mental health issues.

A new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that limiting one’s social media usage to 30 minutes per day can lead to significant improvement’s in well-being.

Specifically, less time scrolling through photos of friends and old high school acquaintances can lower rates depression and loneliness.

The study – which was published in December’s Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology – was one of the first to show a cause-and-effect relationship between social media usage and mental health issues. Most studies previously on the subject have shown only a correlation between the two.

In the study, 143 undergraduate students were tested over the course of two semesters. The students were either put into a group that was instructed to limit their social media usage on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to 30 minutes per day, total, with 10 minutes each per platform, or assigned to a control group, where they were allowed to carry on with their normal social media habits.

After three weeks, the students were asked questions to assess their mental health across seven different areas, including: social support, fear of missing out (also known as FOMO), loneliness, autonomy and self-acceptance, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.

“Here’s the bottom line,” the lead researcher for the study, Melissa Hunt, told Science Daily. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”


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Neither of the groups showed improvements in social support, self-esteem, or autonomy and self-acceptance. However in both groups – perhaps by simply being a part of the study – students found their levels of anxiety and FOMO decline. In general, it’s important to remember that studies like these can’t test for every single factor that can affect mental health.

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