Penn researchers find social media usage increases feelings of depression, loneliness

Penn researchers find social media usage increases feelings of depression, loneliness

Then the researchers split them into two separate groups for the following three weeks.

Participants were asked to log into Facebook and Instagram for a period of five or more minutes and find one peer that was the same age who they felt was more attractive than themselves.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that limiting usage of social media to 30 minutes per day can result in major improvements in their well being.

"We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid", said psychologist Dr. Melissa G. Hunt, associate director of clinical training in Penn's Psychology Department. Researchers have now studied that there is a way that you can use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to actually make your life better.

The second group was allowed to use social media as usual.

Recent problems, like the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the spread of fake news in Myanmar contributing to genocide and increasing problems across Facebook-owned WhatsApp have eclipsed the more personal problems that have afflicted social media users because of practices created to get people hooked on social networks.

143 participants were first tasked with completing a survey that gauged their habits and emotional states at the start of the study.

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The study's authors acknowledge its limitations, including the fact that it only monitored social media usage on cell phones, its participants were all young college students and it was relatively short in duration.

For the objective of the study, the research team monitored the daily social media use of 143 participants for a week, as well as their levels of a range of mental health factors like depression and loneliness. "Indeed, some subjects noted that they spent a lot more time on dating apps, perhaps as the result of limiting other platforms", it pointed out. The volunteers also shared more screenshots of their iPhone battery screens. A more diverse population, for instance, or including more social media platforms.

After three weeks, the researchers evaluated the participants across seven measures, among them being loneliness, depression, anxiety, and FOMO.

"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", she explained.

Because this particular work only looked at Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, it's not clear whether it applies broadly to other social-media platforms.

For one, reduce opportunities for social comparison, she says.

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