Spending less time on social media can positively influence well-being, avoiding depression and other mental health problems. This was the conclusion of a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, in the United States, and published in the scientific publication Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. Despite not being the first analysis with the theme, the publication is a pioneer in showing a cause and effect relationship between the use of social networks and these problems.
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The survey looked at 143 higher education students for two semesters. They were divided into two groups: one could use social media as he liked, while the other was limited to 30 minutes of daily access. Through interviews with the participants, the analysis found that students who spent less time on social networks had improved mood and health.
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The group oriented to spend less time on the networks could access Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for only 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes for each platform. Meanwhile, the second group, called "control", was allowed to continue using social media in the usual way.
After three weeks, participants were asked about a number of attributes, such as depression, loneliness, anxiety and self-esteem. Student responses supported the study's conclusion, as psychologist Melissa Hunt details in a Science Daily interview: "Using less social media than you would normally lead to significant reductions in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for people who were more depressed when they entered the study ".
While students who reduced their time on social media noticed improvements in mood, nothing changed for students who stayed in the "control" group. In fact, people who started the experiment with moderate clinical depression noticed a decrease in symptoms during the reduction period. The scientific text shows that, although they were created to connect users and generate interaction, social networks, if used for a long time, can be harmful to health.
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