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Social media use may up depression, loneliness: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Spending too much time on sites like Facebook, and can impact your well-being, making you depressed and lonely, a study has found.

The study by researchers from the study of Facebook, and use showed a causal link between the time spent on the platforms and decreased well-being

Few prior studies have attempted to show that use harms users' well-being. However, those studies were either limited in scope or have put participants in unrealistic situations, asking them to completely forego and relying on self-report data, for example, or conducting the work in a lab in as little time as an hour.

"We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid," said Melissa G Hunt, an at in the US.

Researchers designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with a cohort of undergraduates, and then collected objective usage data automatically tracked by for active apps, not those running the background.

Each of the 143 participants completed a survey to determine mood and well-being at the study's start, and shared shots of their battery screens to offer a week's worth of

Participants were then randomly assigned to a group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behaviour, or an group that limited time on Facebook, and to 10 minutes per platform per day.

For the next three weeks, participants shared battery screenshots to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual.

With those data in hand, researchers then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

"Using less 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," Hunt said.

She stresses that the findings do not suggest that 18- to 22-year-olds should stop using social media altogether. However, limiting screen time on these apps would not hurt.

"Some of the existing literature on social media suggests there's an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. When you look at other people's lives, particularly on Instagram, it's easy to conclude that everyone else's life is cooler or better than yours," Hunt said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, November 09 2018. 16:00 IST