At the start of the study, baseline scores were taken for anxiety, depression, and well-being. Participants reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on social networks at the start of the study.
Bath: According to new research, a break from social networking for just one week improves a person’s overall level of well-being, as well as reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, which helps people manage their mental health. The research findings were published in the journal Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Bath, studied the mental health effects of a week-long break from social networking. For some study participants, this meant freeing up around nine hours of their week that would otherwise have been spent scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
For the study, the researchers randomly assigned 154 people between the ages of 18 and 72 who used social media every day into either an intervention group, where they were asked to stop using all social media for a week or into a control group, where they could continue to scroll as normal.
At the beginning of the study, baseline scores were taken for anxiety, depression, and well-being. Participants reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on social networks at the start of the study.
One week later, participants who were asked to take a one-week break had significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety compared to those who continued to use social networks, suggesting a short-term benefit.
Participants asked to take a one-week break reported using social networks for an average of 21 minutes compared to an average of seven hours for those in the control group. Screen usage statistics were provided to verify that individuals had adhered to the break.
Bath Health principal investigator Dr. Jeff Lambert explained, “Scrolling through social networks is so pervasive that many of us do it almost mindlessly from the moment we wake up until we close our eyes at night.”
“We know that social media use is huge and there are growing concerns about its effects on mental health, so with this study, we wanted to see if simply asking people to take a week-long break could generate mental health benefits.”
“Many of our participants reported positive effects of being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even a small break can have an impact.”
“Of course, social networking is part of life and for many people, it’s an indispensable part of who they are and how they interact with others. But if you spend hours each week scrolling and feel it’s affecting you negatively, it might be worth reducing your use to see if it helps.”
The team now wants to build on the study to see if taking a short break can help different populations (e.g., younger people or people with physical and mental health issues).
The team also wants to follow people for more than a week, to see if the benefits last over time. If so, in the future, they speculate that this could become part of the suite of clinical options used to help manage mental health.
Over the last 15 years, social media has revolutionized the way we communicate, accentuated by the huge growth seen by the major platforms.
In the UK, the number of adults using social networks increased from 45% in 2011 to 71% in 2021. Among 16-44-year-olds, up to 97% use social networks and scrolling is the most frequent online activity we engage in. carry out.
Feeling “low” and losing pleasure are central features of depression, while anxiety is characterized by excessive and out-of-control worry.
Well-being refers to an individual’s level of positive affect, satisfaction with life, and sense of purpose. According to Mind, one in six of us experiences a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression, in a given week.