“Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night. We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits,” says lead researcher Dr. Jeff Lambert from the University of Bath.
Impact of Social Media Breaks
The study analyzed 154 individuals aged 18 to 72 who used social media every day. They were randomly allocated to the intervention group (abstained from all social media for one week) and a control group (continued scrolling as normal).
The baseline scores for anxiety, depression, and well-being were taken at the start and the end of the study. It was found that just one week off social media resulted in improved individuals’ overall level of well-being, evidenced by reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
This also referred to freeing up around nine hours of the week for some study participants, which would otherwise have been spent scrolling Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
“Many of our participants reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall. This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact. Of course, social media is a part of life and for many people, it’s an indispensable part of who they are and how they interact with others. But if you are spending hours each week scrolling and you feel it is negatively impacting you, it could be worth cutting down on your usage to see if it helps,” says Dr. Jeff Lambert.