Chances are that you’ve heard of something along the lines of “Social media cleanse”—which is typically just an overly fancy term for deleting social media or going on a break from technology, which has become exceedingly more popular as of lately, and even some-what something of a trend in society. While it’s becoming popular now, in the past we’ve seen big name celebrities take a break from all that is the internet. For example, in December of 2015, famous pop singer, Ed Sheeran announced that he was taking an (at the time) indefinite hiatus from Instagram after growing tired of “seeing the world through a screen,” although he has since returned to the site. In June 2016, Demi Lovato, who has a historically tumultuous relationship with the Twitter universe, stepped away from social media for 24 hours so she wouldn’t “have to see what some of y’all say.” Chrissy Teigen, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and a handful of other celebrities which have all followed suit.
Since the peak in popularity, a brand new study was conducted by researchers from Stanford and New York University (NYU) that claims that quitting social media – in particular, the community giant, Facebook, can yield some pretty immediate, long lasting and positive effects.
During the research, the study’s authors discovered that the average social media user needs a paid incentive of up to $2,000 to break the habit for a year, according to Benedict Carey, who wrote for The New York Times. According to the research paper, social media use may offer some potential mental health benefits, but it can also lead to increased rates of depression, substance use, and political polarisation. During the study, researchers conducted a “randomised evaluation of the welfare effects of Facebook, focusing on U.S. users in the run-up to the 2018 midterm election,” according to the paper. “We measured the willingness-to-accept of 2,844 Facebook users to deactivate their Facebook accounts for four weeks, then randomly assigned a subset to actually do so in a way that we verified.”
The research’s results discovered that shutting off Facebook increased more real time social interaction with friends and family, and additionally lessened online activity use overall, which included scrolling time on other social media sites, both via computer and alternatives. Additionally, deactivating Facebook accounts increased reported feelings of well-being among study participants, while also lessening “both factual news knowledge and political polarisation.” Researchers also say that a large number of participants significantly decreased their Facebook usage even after the experiment was over. Participants also reported an extra hour of daily downtime, The New York Times reported.
Study participant and college student Aaron Kelly, who is currently 23 years of age, recently told The New York Times that he took part in the Facebook study as a way take a break, and examine the personal impact of using the platform. “For me, Facebook is one of those compulsive things,” he said. “It’s really useful, but I always felt like I was wasting time on it, distracting myself from study, using it whenever I got bored.”
“Deactivation caused small but significant improvements in well-being, and in particular on self-reported happiness, life satisfaction, depression, and anxiety,” the study’s authors report in the paper. “As a point of comparison, this is about 25-40 percent of the effect of psychological interventions including self-help therapy, group training, and individual therapy. These results are consistent with prior studies suggesting that Facebook may have adverse effects on mental health.” But the study’s authors note that research suggests that people who are more prone to depression and mood disorders might be heavier social media users in the first place,
The New York Times reported. “Previous research could not discern whether mood problems followed heavy usage, or moody people tended to be the heaviest users. The new study supported the latter explanation,” Carey wrote for the Times. Given that social media usage can be a mixed bag when it comes to the impact on mental health, noting your personal usage, and observing how your scrolling habits make you feel overall, is probably not a bad thing to look into.