NEW YORK: Limiting screen time on social media, including Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, can lead to higher levels of happiness, as being glued to such apps can invite depression and loneliness, researchers have noted.
The study, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, showed that restricting screen time on these apps could improve one's health, says a report in Khaleej Times. One hundred forty-three undergraduates from the University of Pennsylvania in the US were included in the study.
The team designed their experiment to include the three platforms most popular with the participants. They collected objective usage data automatically tracked by iPhones for active apps, not those running in the background, and asked respondents to complete a survey to determine mood and well-being.
The participants were then randomly assigned to a control group, which had users maintain their typical social-media behaviour, or an experimental group that limited time on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram to 10 minutes per platform per day.
Besides, the participants shared iPhone battery screenshots for the next three weeks to give the researchers weekly tallies for each individual.
The team then looked at seven outcome measures including fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
The results showed that using less social media than you normally would lead to a significant decrease in both depression and loneliness.
However, young people aged between 18 and 22 should not stop using social media altogether, suggested the findings.
"When you are not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you are actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life," said Melissa Hunt from the University.
"Because these tools are here to stay, it is incumbent on society to figure out how to use them in a way that limits damaging effects," she added.