A Small Social Media Break Can Give You Big Health Benefits: Study

It would not be wrong to say that the social media madness has become out of control these days. There is no one out there who doesn’t use any social media apps or platforms. However, the fact is that some studies are now showing that social media use can lead to depression, low self-confidence, body posture issues, anxiety, social isolation, and the list goes on. Moreover, social media usage can even result in eating disorders and self-harm behaviors. On the other side, social media can bring communities together. However, the balance can be easily skewed as it is not the healthiest recreational activity out there. Studies claim that there is a clear link between social media usage and deteriorating graph of mental health. Let’s discuss in detail why social media break is necessary.

Why is a social media break necessary?

Social media platforms lean on the addictive side of online content consumption. They try to keep users hooked with an endless bombardment of interest-based recommendations. There are a lot of users who spend hours lying idle and doom-scrolling on their phone screens.

Studies have revealed that reducing your daily social media surfing time is not only good for your mental health but also your physical well-being. Recently, new research from Swansea University was published in the Journal of Technology in Behavior Science. It suggests that reducing the time spent on social media surfing by as little as 15 minutes offers a substantial improvement in physical health. As part of the research, experts from Swansea University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences requested participants of age 20 to 25 to present weekly reports about their physical and psychological health after reducing their social media activity. All the participants that followed the advice reported an average 15% improvement in immune function, including fewer colds, flu, warts, and verrucae. 

Now, let’s talk about the people who go on social media to binge-watch in lethargic scenarios, for instance, lying on a bed or a couch. By cutting down on social media usage, people will definitely spend that time on some other activity or just gave their bodies more rest. In this way, reducing social media usage will contribute to their physical well-being. Am I right? Professor Phil Reed from Swansea University’s Department of Psychology stated:

“It is a valid assumption that cutting down social media use allows other activities to be undertaken, which may be healthier. We don’t really know that; it may be, or the effects on improved health could be from reduced stress associated with not using social media. Letting them be free to choose what to do with their extra time is much more compelling.”

In addition to improved physical health, participants that decreased their social media activity also reported a 50% improvement in their sleep quality. In addition to that, there was also a 30% reduction in depressive symptoms. Reports claim that the test was so influential that people that were asked to cut down social media time by 15 minutes each day actually ended up reducing their social media usage by roughly 40 minutes.

Professor Reed stated affirmatively:

“I believe that this is the first study of its type to build a clear link between reduced social media usage and physical well-being. Several others have looked at the outcome of reducing social media use on psychological wellbeing, but not on physical wellbeing”

However, one mystery still remains unsolved. We need to answer whether establishing a direct correlation between social media use and health issues changes well-being variables, such as depression, or other factors.  There has been no study regarding this yet. However, we only know that the net impact of cutting down usage is positive.

Let me tell you that this was experimented over a period of three months. In the end, the study resulted in a surprising conclusion. As per the research, advising people to lessen their social media screen time by a fixed duration and spending that time on other activities actually had a contrasting effect. This group of people ended up increasing their social media surfing duration by an even greater margin than the advised cutback. Anyhow, I want to conclude this article by saying that Snipping down your social media consumption by a pack as small as 15 minutes could help in less social media dependence. It will directly result in improved general health and immune functioning, as well as reduced feelings of loneliness and depression. So, all the people out there can execute a small experiment on themselves by reducing their screen time a little bit and then check out the consequences. Do let us know in the comment section how you feel after reducing social media usage. 

If you want to get your hands on a condensed version of this study, it can be read on the Swansea University website where the full research paper is also available.

Also Read: Pakistan’s Tech Industry: A Rising Powerhouse of Innovation and Talent (phoneworld.com.pk)

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Laiba Mohsin

Laiba is an Electrical Engineer seeking a placement to gain hands-on experience in relevant areas of telecommunications. She likes to write about tech and gadgets. She loves shopping, traveling and exploring things.

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