I don’t think it needs to be said but social media, though it allows us to connect with other people, can cause distress and even depression.
So it would be logical to think that once you go offline and stop using social media, it can improve your mental health tremendously. Many have already attest to the big impact that unplugging from social media has done for them. Now a ‘gold standard’ study confirms it.
Researchers at Stanford University and New York University who led the study — which was posted on an open access site called the Social Science Research Network — recruited 2,844 Facebook users via Facebook ads. Those users were initially asked to fill out extensive questionnaires about their overall well-being, political views, and daily routine.
Half of the users were then randomly assigned to deactivate their Facebook account for four weeks in exchange for payment. Researchers regularly checked the Facebook accounts during the month to make sure they weren’t reactivated, and regularly received text messages to assess these users’ moods, creating a real-time evaluation.
Overall, researchers concluded that not using Facebook reduced online activity, including other social media use, and increased offline activity such as watching television and socializing with friends and family more. Those who deactivated also observed a decrease in political polarization and news knowledge, and an increase in subjective well-being. The one-month cleanse also led to a reduction in time spent on Facebook for several weeks after the experiment.
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