4 Science-Backed Reasons to Take a Break from Social Media
Social media platforms are incredible tools that help educate and connect us all. But if we don’t balance our social media use with other healthy activities, all that time spent browsing and interacting can quickly take a toll on our health.
Remaining aware of our social media habits and developing the necessary self-discipline to be able to unplug every so often is key to making the best use out of social media without giving it up entirely. Even if you don’t believe social media is really all that bad for you personally, you may still be interested in finding out what some of the research has to say about it below.
1. Less time spent on Facebook is associated with higher levels of wellbeing.
In a recent study from the University of Copenhagen, more than 1,000 subjects were divided into two groups — one that involved taking a break from Facebook for a week and another that involved continuing to use the social network. Using information taken from questionnaires that were given to subjects to fill out at the beginning and end of the week-long study period, researchers found that increased life satisfaction and positive emotions were experienced more by the group that took the Facebook break.
2. Use of multiple social media platforms may contribute to depression and anxiety.
There are lots of previous studies that have explored the effects of social media on depression and anxiety, but recent research suggests that it’s not necessarily how much time a user spends on social media that’s so bad — it’s how many platforms they’re trying to keep up with. 1,787 young adults were given a questionnaire that was focused on 11 of the most popular social networks (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube, Snapchat, Reddit, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn). The data revealed that those who used seven or more of those social networks were more than three times more likely to report symptoms of depression compared to those who had two or fewer social networks.
3. Social media has been shown to have worse effects on body image than traditional media.
It turns out that Instagram is now more powerful than magazines in terms of body image influence. A small study conducted by The Conversation found that women don’t really compare themselves to women they see in billboard ads or in magazines, and only sometimes do they compare themselves to women they see on TV. According to data obtained from 150 women who filled out a questionnaire, the type of everyday comparisons that they’re making is done primarily via social media, resulting in worse moods being reported after the women compared themselves to others on social media platforms like Instagram.
4. Screen device use is linked to several obesity risk factors.
When people get on their devices to browse and interact on social media, they often do so at the expense of physical activity. While this is already pretty obvious, Harvard researchers have found that virtually all common forms of screen devices — including televisions, gaming consoles, computers, tablets and smartphones — had ties to obesity in teenagers (based on national data from nearly 25,000 teens). Those who spent more than five hours a day in front of screens were also twice as likely to sleep less and were far less physically active.
Read over the above findings again and think about how they might apply to your own social media habits. Not all of them may apply, but if you suspect any of them do, it’s probably worth doing some experimentation by changing your habits or limiting your use. Here are five tips for spending less time on social media.
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