New Study Shows Time on Social Media Can Make You Lonely and Depressed

time on social media

Anna Hunt, Staff
Waking Times

Pretty much everyone will agree that too much time on social media will leave you feeling a little inadequate. Why? Because when you’re scanning people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds, you’re taking in the best moments of their lives at full throttle. And let’s not forget that there’s always a good dose of fictitious perfection.

Face it, people strive to make their social presence as perfect as possible, like they are living the ideal life. As a result, if you spend too much time scrolling through people’s social profiles, you may end up feeling a little depressed. You may even view your life as somewhat lacking. This is no longer just a hypothetical theory. Now, research proves it!

  • Research Looks How Time on Social Media Affects Well-being

    Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a connection between Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram social networks and well-being. Psychologist and associate director at Penn’s Psychology Department, Melissa Hunt published the study recently in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.  She claims that the study was more comprehensive and rigorous than past research that assessed the impact of social media.

    The study included 143 participants from the University. Initially, each student completed a survey to help the research team determine their general mood disposition and assess factors that affect well-being, such as level of anxiety and loneliness. In addition, the researchers determined the average social media consumed by each participant.

    During the experiment, participants were split into two groups. One was a control group, where users maintained their typical social media consumption. The second group limited their time on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram to only 10 minutes per day. Hunt’s team accomplished their data collection by tracking usage automatically via iPhones.

    The experiment lasted three weeks. Each week, participants shared iPhone data that clearly tallied usage time. Hunt and team also assessed seven measures of well-being. These included anxiety, loneliness, the fear of missing out and depression.

    Hunt outlines the main 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.

    Social Media Leads to Enormous Social Comparison

    Does limiting screen time on social media mean you’ll lead a happier life? Won’t you feel left out if you don’t know what’s going on in other people’s lives? Here is Hunt’s assessment:

    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.

    It’s important to note that Hunt’s study is limited to 18-22 year old’s. Therefore, we can’t necessarily conclude that all age groups would react the same way to less time on social media sites. Although, how many times have you compared yourself to others when looking at their Facebook or Instagram feed?

    Regardless of age, spending time looking at someone’s picture-perfect life eats away at your time of actually doing something that will make your life richer.

    Furthermore, if you find yourself getting wrapped up in the social presence of a friend or family member, perhaps it’s time to give that person a call and set aside some time to see them and catch up. When you actually talk to your friends, you’re likely to learn life isn’t perfect. You learn that they use a really fun photo filter to take out blemishes and dark eye circles. You learn about their troubles – because everyone has them but they don’t share that stuff on their feed. And consequently, you both feel more content because you’ve spent time with someone, truly connecting.

    Read more articles by Anna Hunt.

  • About the Author

    Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.


    This article (New Study Shows Time on Social Media Can Make You Lonely and Depressed) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Anna Hunt and It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

    Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Waking Times or its staff.

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