1 week break from social media improves mental health: Study

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Desk Reporter
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According to a new research, taking a week off from social media enhances people’s overall well-being and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, which helps people manage their mental health.

The study was published in the journal, ‘Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking’.

The research, carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Bath, studied the mental health effects of a week-long social media break.

According to the statement, “For the study, the researchers randomly allocated 154 individuals aged 18 to 72 who used social media every day into either an intervention group, where they were asked to stop using all social media for one week, or a control group, where they could continue scrolling as normal.”

At the beginning of the study, baseline scores for anxiety, depression, and wellbeing were taken. Participants reported spending an average of 8 hours per week on social media at the beginning of the study.

As per the study, “One week later, the participants who were asked to take the one-week break had significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety than those who continued to use social media, suggesting a short-term benefit.”

The 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. Screen usage statistics were provided to ensure that people had followed the break.

Lead researcher from Bath’s Department for Health, Dr. Jeff Lambert explained that, “Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night. 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.”

“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. 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,” Dr. Lambert added.

The team now wants to build on the study to see whether taking a short break can help different populations (e.g., younger people or people with physical and mental health conditions).

“The team also wants to follow people up for longer than one week, to see if the benefits last over time. If so, in the future, they speculate that this could form part of the suite of clinical options used to help manage mental health,” as per the statement.

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