You know what makes us feel sad? Studies about how social media makes people feel sad. The latest comes from the University of Pennsylvania, based on an experiment involving 143 people completing a survey about their mood and wellbeing, while also sharing screenshots of their iPhone battery screens (which shows how long they’ve been spending on different apps).
They were then divided in to two groups: one that carried on as before, and the other that were limited to 10 minutes a day on each of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. The findings? “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness. These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study,” said psychologist Melissa Hunt, who led the research.
“It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely… [but] some of the existing literature on social media suggests there’s an enormous amount of social comparison that happens. 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.”
There’s evidence that this issue is being thought about more widely, though: a separate study by Deloitte published this week suggests that while Americans look at their phones 52 times a day on average, 40% of people say they use their phones too much, while 63% are trying to limit their usage.