For better mental health, 30 minutes of social networks a day maximum

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Written by Doug Hampton

Studies on the subject are multiplying and all or almost all come to the same conclusions: the abuse of social networks is harmful to mental health, that of the youngest in particular. But this situation is very easily reversible, according to American researchers.

The relationship between the consumption of social networks and its possible effects on mental health has been the subject of numerous studies, since the appearance of the first social networks in the early 2000s. With hindsight, it now appears that the significant consumption of these social networks produce many effects on mental health, and that these are mostly deleterious.

So researchers are testing hypotheses to try to reduce these effects. Last year, a study conducted by British researchers, for example, concluded that a week’s break from social media consumption reduced signs of anxiety and depression, and improved the well-being of participants. , all adults.

Results in two weeks

But it can be difficult to cut radically and definitively with what constitutes, for the youngest, the main means of communicating, getting information, and even working with their peers. A team from the State University of Iowa (United States) therefore tried an experiment: self-limitation of its consumption. She set the maximum duration at 30 minutes per day, and the study participants, freshmen in college, received daily reminders by email to help them meet this goal.

Before the experiment, they used social networks (in order: Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok) 3h25 per day on average. Result : “After two weeks of limitation, the self-monitored group showed significant improvements in their psychological well-being. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, fear of missing out (FOMO syndrome, “Fear of missing out”, editor’s note) and negative affect decreased, while positive affect increased”.

Some participants further commented that while the first few days were difficult, they quickly felt more productive, more social and slept better. For the authors of the study, this measure of self-limitation can constitute a practical intervention to improve the psychological well-being of users of social networks. The experiment, carried out on a hundred students, will however have to be confirmed on a larger scale.

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