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No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression


Abstract and Figures

Introduction: Given the breadth of correlational research linking social media use to worse well-being, we undertook an experimental study to investigate the potential causal role that social media plays in this relationship. Method: After a week of baseline monitoring, 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania were randomly assigned to either limit Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat use to 10 minutes, per platform, per day, or to use social media as usual for three weeks. Results: The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring. Discussion: Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 37, No. 10, 2018, pp. 751-768
© 2018 Guilford Publications, Inc.
Address correspondence to Melissa G. Hunt, 425 S. University Ave., Philadelphia, PA
19104; E-mail:
University of Pennsylvania
Introduction: Given the breadth of correlational research linking social media
use to worse well-being, we undertook an experimental study to investigate the
potential causal role that social media plays in this relationship. Method: After a
week of baseline monitoring, 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsyl-
vania were randomly assigned to either limit Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat
use to 10 minutes, per platform, per day, or to use social media as usual for three
weeks. Results: The limited use group showed signicant reductions in loneliness
and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups
showed signicant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline,
suggesting a benet of increased self-monitoring. Discussion: Our ndings strong-
ly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may
lead to signicant improvement in well-being.
Keywords: social media; social networking sites; Facebook; Snapchat; Instagram;
well-being; depression; loneliness
Social Networking Sites (SNS) have become a ubiquitous part
of the lives of young adults. As of March of 2018, 68% of adults
in the United States had a Facebook account, and 75% of these
people reported using Facebook on a daily basis. Moreover, 78%
of young adults (ages 18–24) used Snapchat, while 71% of young
adults used Instagram (Smith & Anderson, 2018). Widespread
adoption of social media has prompted a flurry of correlational
studies on the relationship between social media use and mental
health. Self-reported Facebook and Instagram usage have been
found to correlate positively with symptoms of depression, both
directly and indirectly (Donnelly & Kuss, 2016; Lup, Trub, &
Rosenthal, 2015; Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier, & Cheever, 2013;
Tandoc, Ferrucci, & Duffy, 2015;). Higher usage of Facebook
has been found to be associated with lower self-esteem cross-
sectionally (Kalpidou, Costin, & Morris, 2011) as well as greater
loneliness (Song et al., 2014). Higher usage of Instagram is cor-
related with body image issues (Tiggemann & Slater, 2013).
In a large population based study, Twenge and colleagues
(Twenge, Joiner, Rogers, & Martin, 2017) found that time spent on
screen activities was significantly correlated with more depres-
sive symptoms and risk for suicide-related outcomes, although
the correlations with SNS use specifically were quite small, and
only significant for girls. A major limitation of that study was
that the data bases used suffered from restricted range in SNS
use, with the highest category (almost every day) being en-
dorsed by more than 85% of females in the samples (Daly, 2018).
This simply cannot capture differences in use as they occur natu-
ralistically. Checking Facebook for 5 minutes almost every day
is surely different that spending hours a day on SNS platforms.
Two studies have used prospective, naturalistic designs. Us-
ing experience sampling, Kross and colleagues (2013) found
that Facebook use predicts less satisfaction with life over time.
In a two-week diary design, Steers, Wickham, & Acitelli (2014)
found that the relationship between Facebook use and depres-
sive symptoms was mediated by social comparisons. Indeed,
several studies have demonstrated that social comparison and
peer envy often play a major role in these findings (Tandoc et al.,
2015; Verduyn et al., 2015).
Thus, there is considerable evidence that SNS use is associ-
ated with reductions in well-being. However, the vast majority
of work done in this domain has been correlational in design,
which does not allow for causal inferences. Two studies (Kross
et al., 2013 and Steers et al., 2014) used prospective longitudinal
designs, but were not experimental. It is quite possible that more
depressed or lonely individuals use SNS more in an attempt to
connect with others. Similarly, it is possible that individuals with
lower self-esteem or poorer self-image are more prone to engage
in social comparison by spending time on SNS sites. Only experi-
mental studies can address the direction of causality definitively.
In our review of the literature, we were able to find only two
experimental studies, both of which examined only Facebook
use. The first study found that subjects assigned to passively
scroll through Facebook (as opposed to those assigned to ac-
tively post and comment) subsequently reported lower levels
of well-being and more envy, indicating not only that Facebook
impacts mental health but also that the way in which we engage
with Facebook matters (Verduyn et al., 2015). It is reasonable
to think that the longer one spends on social media, the more
one will be engaging with it in a passive way (as opposed to
actively posting content, commenting, etc.) In the second study,
subjects who were randomly assigned to abstain from Facebook
for a week demonstrated improved satisfaction with life and af-
fect (Tromholt, 2016). While this study was a considerable im-
provement methodologically on prior work, the ecological va-
lidity of the study is somewhat suspect. First, the intervention
lasted only one week. While it is interesting that subjects showed
measurable increases in well-being over this short time, it is un-
clear whether this would have been sustainable. Second, many
users have grown so attached to social media that a long-term
intervention requiring complete abstention would be unrealistic;
limiting SNS use seems more likely to be acceptable and sustain-
able. Third, this study relied upon self-report to measure compli-
ance with study instructions—there was no objective measure
of actual time spent on Facebook. Lastly, both of these studies
only explored the effects of Facebook usage. While Facebook is
the most widely used SNS among adults, many other sites, es-
pecially Snapchat and Instagram, attract large numbers of users
and play a major role in these users’ lives; this is most notably
true for young adults.
The current study was designed to be a rigorous, ecologically
valid, experimental study of the impact on well-being of limiting
(but not eliminating) the use of multiple SNS platforms over an
extended period of time. We improve upon prior studies in sev-
eral ways. First, the study is experimental, allowing for causal
inferences to be made. Second, we gathered objective data on
actual usage, both during a baseline phase (to account for the
effects of self-monitoring) and during the active intervention
phase. Third, we included three major SNS platforms (Facebook,
Snapchat, and Instagram). Fourth, we limited usage to 10 min-
utes per platform per day, as this seems far more realistic than
asking people to abstain from SNS use completely. Many organi-
zations, student groups, businesses, and so on rely on social me-
dia posts to communicate with members and customers about
meeting times, events, etc. It is unrealistic to expect young peo-
ple to forego this information stream entirely. Finally, we mea-
sured well-being at multiple time points, including before and
after the initial self-monitoring baseline, at multiple time points
throughout the intervention, and at one-month follow-up after
the intervention formally ended.
A total of 143 subjects (108 women, 35 men) were recruited from
a pool of undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania, and
began the study on a rolling basis. Seventy-two subjects partici-
pated in the fall semester, and 71 in the spring. The subject pool
consisted of students enrolled in psychology courses for which
they could participate in studies to earn course credit. Subjects
were required to have Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat ac-
counts, and to own an iPhone.
Subjective Well-Being Survey
To measure well-being, we used a battery consisting of seven
validated scales. Given the lack of experimental research on our
topic, we decided to use a wide variety of well-being constructs
that have been found to correlate with social media usage. The
survey also included a consent form and questions regarding de-
mographic information (age, sex, and race). The scales compris-
ing the subjective well-being survey are listed below.
Social Support. The Interpersonal Support and Evaluation List
(ISEL; Cohen & Hoberman, 1983) consists of 20 items scored on
a 0–3 scale (definitely false to definitely true). We modified item
8 slightly to make it specific to Philadelphia (If I wanted to go on
a trip for a day to Center City, I would have a hard time finding
someone to go with me). Items pertain to accessibility of social
support and include statements such as “When I feel lonely, there
are several people I can talk to” and “If I decide one afternoon
that I would like to go to a movie that evening, I could easily find
someone to go with me.” The ISEL has good construct validity
and good internal consistency with α = 0.77 (Cohen, Mermel-
stein, Kamarck, & Hoberman, 1985).
Fear of Missing Out. The Fear of Missing Out Scale (FoMOs;
Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan, & Gladwell, 2013) is a validat-
ed measure of distress related to missing out on social experienc-
es (α = .87). It consists of 10 items scored on a scale of 1 (not at all
true of me) to 5 (extremely true of me); items include statements
such as “I get anxious when I don’t know what my friends are up
to,” “Sometimes, I wonder if I spend too much time keeping up
with what is going on,” and “I fear others have more rewarding
experiences than me.”
Loneliness. The UCLA Loneliness Scale (revised UCLA Loneli-
ness Scale; Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980) measures perceived
social isolation. The original version was revised to include re-
verse-scored items and consists of 20 items, scored on a scale of
1 (never) to 4 (often). Sample items include statements such as
“No one really knows me well,” “My interests and ideas are not
shared by those around me,” and “I feel in tune with the people
around me” (reverse scored). The scale has good construct valid-
ity and internal consistency with α = 0.94 (Russell et al., 1980).
Anxiety. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-S;
Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970) is a widely used measure
of anxiety symptoms. The inventory consists of two instruction
sets, which measure state (in-the-moment) and trait (general)
anxiety. We only used the state anxiety version, which consists
of 20 items such as “I feel worried” and “I feel calm” (reverse
scored). Subjects can respond on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 4 (ex-
tremely so).
Depression. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II; Beck, Steer,
& Brown, 1996) is a standard clinical measure of depressive
symptoms. It consists of 21 items covering the vegetative, affec-
tive and cognitive symptoms of depression. Respondents can in-
dicate the severity of each symptom on a scale of 0–3 (e.g.. for the
symptom loss of pleasure, one can respond: “I get as much plea-
sure as I ever did from the things I enjoy,” “I don’t enjoy things
as much as I used to,” “I get very little pleasure from the things I
used to enjoy,” or “I can’t get any pleasure from the things I used
to enjoy”).
Self-Esteem. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES; Rosen-
berg, 1979) assesses how one feels about oneself. It consists of
10 items, scored 0 (strongly disagree) to 3 (strongly agree), with
higher scores indicating more positive feelings about oneself.
Items include “I feel that I have a number of good qualities,” “I
feel I do not have much to be proud of” (reverse scored), and “I
take a positive attitude toward myself.”
Autonomy and Self-Acceptance. The Ryff Psychological Well-Be-
ing Scale (PWB; Ryff, 1989) operationalizes psychological well-
being in 6 dimensions. We selected the dimensions of autonomy
and self-acceptance, as these dimensions are most pertinent to
the potential effects of social media. We utilized the 42-item ver-
sion, selecting the 14 items belonging to these two dimensions.
Items are scored on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly
agree), with higher scores indicating higher levels of well-being.
Examples of items from the autonomy subscale include “My
decisions are not usually influenced by what everyone else is
doing” and “I tend to worry about what other people think of
me” (reverse scored). Examples of items from the self-acceptance
subscale include “I like most aspects of my personality” and “In
many ways, I feel disappointed about my achievements in life”
(reverse scored).
Objective Measure of Social Media Usage
To track usage of social media, we had subjects email screenshots
of their iPhone battery usage at specified increments. iPhones
automatically track the total minutes each application is actively
open on the screen. The battery screen allows users to display
their usage for the past 24 hours or 7 days. We provided instruc-
tions on how to get to this screen with every reminder to send in
a screenshot. In the spring semester of the study, subjects were
also asked to estimate their daily usage of Facebook, Instagram,
and Snapchat before starting the baseline self-monitoring period.
Subjects signed up via the online website for the University psy-
chology subject pool. Upon signing up, they were directed to
a secure Qualtrics platform where they saw the consent form,
and then completed the baseline survey of mood and well-being
measures. Subjects were then sent a welcome email describing
the study in more detail. This email informed them that, start-
ing that night, they would be sending in a screenshot of their
battery screen displaying the past 24 hours of usage in minutes.
They were told they would be doing this each night for the next
four weeks. Subjects were told to use social media as usual un-
til they received their next email. If they had signed up for the
study but had not yet completed the baseline survey, they were
sent a similar email detailing the study, with the added reminder
to complete the baseline survey. They were not told to send in
screenshots until they completed the baseline survey.
One week after completing the baseline survey, subjects were
emailed their second survey. This survey was identical to the
baseline survey, but excluded the BDI-II (it was assumed that
depression would not fluctuate much on a week-by-week basis).
Subjects were asked to send a screenshot of their battery usage,
and then received their group assignment. The control group
was instructed to continue to use social media as usual, while
the intervention group was told to limit their usage on Facebook,
Instagram and Snapchat to 10 minutes per platform per day.
Subjects continued to send in nightly screenshots for the next 3
weeks. They also continued to take the survey at the end of each
week (the surveys at the end of the 2nd and 3rd weeks did not
include the BDI-II, but the survey at the end of the 4th week—
i.e. at the end of the intervention phase—did include the BDI-II).
At the end of the fourth week, they were sent a wrap-up email
after completing their survey and sending in their screenshot.
This email explained that they would be receiving course credit
shortly and that they were essentially done with the study, with
the exception of a one-time follow-up that would be sent out
around a month later. This follow-up included the survey (with
the BDI-II), and a final screenshot of their usage for the past 24
In the spring semester the procedure was essentially the same
as in the fall, albeit with two changes. First, we decided to in-
clude the BDI-II in all surveys that were sent out. We regretted
not having as much intermediate data on depression levels. Sec-
ond, instead of having subjects send in screenshots every night,
we instructed them to send in screenshots displaying the past
7 days of usage once a week. This was done for two reasons.
First, although subjects were encouraged to send in screenshots
at around the same time each night, subjects inevitably sent
screenshots in earlier or later than the time they had sent in the
screenshot the previous night. Having a screenshot sent in an
hour early compromises the quality of data in the context of a 24-
hour window much more than it does in the context of a 7-day
window. Second, because the study lasted for four weeks, night-
ly screenshots were a significant logistical commitment for both
the subjects and researchers. We expected that people would be
more likely to send in all screenshots if they were just asked to
send in 5 screenshots, as opposed to 29. In addition, it was more
manageable for researchers to promptly follow up with subjects
who did not send in a screenshot. This reduced error variance
from subjects submitting screenshots at different times, or for-
getting to send specific screenshots. Unfortunately, the battery
usage app resets each time the phone is turned off. Thus, for a
few subjects, we had to extrapolate weekly usage from fewer
than seven full days of battery usage. However, given that this
is the first study to attempt to measure usage objectively (rather
than relying on retrospective self-report) we are confident that
our usage data are more reliable and valid than those of previous
We found that baseline depression, loneliness, anxiety, perceived
social support, self-esteem, and well-being did not actually cor-
relate with baseline social media use in the week following com-
pleting the questionnaires. That is, more distressed individuals
did not use social media more prospectively. Baseline Fear of
Missing Out, however, did predict more actual social media use
prospectively (r = .20, p < .05). Similarly, actual usage during the
first week of baseline monitoring was not associated with well-
being at the end of the week, controlling for baseline well-being.
These results are somewhat at odds with prior research, which
often finds an association with estimated, self-reported social
media use and measures of well-being prospectively.
In the spring, we asked subjects to give us estimates of their
use (essentially retrospective self-report data as is used in most
correlational studies of social media use and well-being). Inter-
estingly, estimated use was significantly negatively correlated
with perceived social support (r = −.24, p < .05) and marginally
negatively correlated with both self-esteem (r = .23, p = .056)
and overall well-being (r = −.21, p = .08). Estimated use and actu-
al use were significantly, but only modestly correlated with each
other (r = .31, p = .01). Eliminating three univariate outliers from
the data (people who estimated over 900 minutes, or 15 hours
of use per week) yielded even more modest results (r = .26, p <
.05). That is, people were not very good at estimating their actual
use, and retrospective self-report bias appears to explain at least
some of the correlational findings.
First, we ensured that subjects in the experimental condition did
indeed limit their usage by conducting an independent samples
t-test at each week of the intervention. Although not every sub-
ject complied perfectly with the established time limit, on aver-
age the experimental group used significantly less social media
than the control group for week one, t(117) = 5.69, p < .001, week
two, t(119) = 6.516, p < .001, and week three, t(113) = 5.78, p <
.001, of the intervention. On average, the experimental group
also remained within the limit of 210 minutes per week at weeks
one (M = 179, SD = 140), two (M = 166, SD = 149), and three (M =
176, SD = 155). See Figure 1.
We then ran an analysis of covariance to determine the effect of
condition on loneliness. Controlling for baseline loneliness and
actual usage, subjects in the experimental group scored signifi-
FIGURE 1. Total weekly social media use over time by condition.
cantly lower on the UCLA Loneliness Scale at the end of the in-
tervention, F(1,111) = 6.896, p = .01. See Figure 2.
Next, we first ran a univariate analysis of variance to assess the
effect of group assignment on depression, controlling for base-
line depression, actual usage, and the interaction of baseline de-
pression and condition. There was a significant interaction be-
tween condition and baseline depression, F(1, 111) = 5.188, p <
.05. To help with interpretation of the interaction effect, we split
the sample into high and low baseline depression. Subjects were
considered low in baseline depression if they scored below the
clinical cut-off of 14 on the BDI, and high if they scored a 14 or
above. When analyzed this way, there were significant main ef-
fects of both baseline depression and condition on depressive
symptoms at week 4, for High/Low baseline, F(1,111) = 44.5, p
< .001; for Condition, F(1,111) = 4.5, p < .05. In sum, individuals
high in baseline depression in the control group saw no change
in mean BDI score over the course of the study (at baseline, mean
BDI = 22.8, at Week 4 mean BDI = 22.83). In contrast, individuals
in the experimental group saw clinically significant declines in
FIGURE 2. Loneliness at week 4 by condition.
depressive symptoms, from a mean of 23 at baseline, to a mean
of 14.5 at Week 4. Individuals low in baseline depression in the
experimental group saw a statistically, but not clinically signifi-
cant decline of a single point in mean BDI (from 5.1 at baseline to
4.1 at Week 4). Individuals low in baseline depression in the con-
trol group, on the other hand, showed neither statistically nor
clinically significant change in depressive symptoms (from 5 at
baseline to 4.67 at Week 4). See Figure 3.
After running analyses of covariance on interpersonal support,
fear of missing out, anxiety, self-esteem, and psychological well-
being, we found no significant differences between the two
We did, however, see a slight, but statistically significant de-
cline from baseline to the end of the intervention in fear of miss-
ing out in both the control, t(46) = 3.278, p < .002, and experimen-
tal, t(65) = 3.568, p < .001, groups. Similarly, we observed a slight
decline in anxiety in both the control, t(46) = 3.035, p < .004, and
experimental, t(65) = 2.477, p < .016, groups.
FIGURE 3. Depressive symptoms by condition and baseline BDI.
Unfortunately, we experienced significant attrition from the
study at the final follow-up wave of data collection in both the
fall and spring semesters. In total, we were able to collect com-
plete follow-up data (including both objective use and well-be-
ing data) from only 30 individuals (21%). We deemed that sam-
ple size too small to provide reliable or meaningful results.
As hypothesized, experimentally limiting social media usage on
a mobile phone to 10 minutes per platform per day for a full
three weeks had a significant impact on well-being. Both lone-
liness and depressive symptoms declined in the experimental
group. With respect to depression, the intervention was most
impactful for those who started the study with higher levels of
depression. Subjects who started out with moderately severe de-
pressive symptoms saw declines down to the mild range by the
simple expedient of limiting social media use for three weeks.
Even subjects with lower levels of depression saw a statistically
significant improvement as the result of cutting down on so-
cial media, although a mean decline of one point in BDI score is
probably not clinically meaningful. As one subject shared with
us “Not comparing my life to the lives of others had a much
stronger impact than I expected, and I felt a lot more positive
about myself during those weeks.” Further, “I feel overall that
social media is less important and I value it less than I did prior
to the study.”
Throughout the four-week intervention, subjects in both groups
also showed a significant decline in both fear of missing out and
anxiety. We posit that this was a result of the self-monitoring in-
herent in the study. As one subject in the experimental group
said “I am much more conscious of my usage now. This was defi-
nitely a worthwhile study in which to partake.” Another noted
“It was easier than I thought to limit my usage. Afterwards I
pretty much stopped using Snapchat because I realized it wasn’t
something I missed.” Although there was no statistically signifi-
cant decline in usage in the control group, even those subjects
reported that self-monitoring impacted their awareness of their
use. For example, one said “The amount of time spent on social
media is alarming and I will be more conscientious of this in the
future.” Another reported “I was in the control group and I was
definitely more conscious that someone was monitoring my us-
age. I ended up using less and felt happier and like I could focus
on school and not (be as) interested in what everyone is up to.”
Interestingly, our subjects did not show any improvement in
social support, self-esteem, or psychological well-being. Perhaps
these measures are truly unaffected by social media. It is also
possible that the intervention was not long enough to produce
any changes in these measures. Or, it could be that the time limit
we imposed was either too restrictive or not restrictive enough
to bring about positive change in these domains.
With the exception of fear of missing out, well-being at base-
line did not predict actual social media use prospectively during
the first week of self-monitoring. FOMO, however, did predict
more usage, as might be expected. Similarly, actual use during
the first week did not predict changes in well-being over that
week controlling for baseline. Estimated use, however, was nega-
tively correlated with perceived social support, self-esteem, and
overall well-being. That is, more distressed individuals believed
that they used social media more than less distressed individu-
als, despite the fact that there were no differences in objective
use. Since ours is the first study that we know of to collect objec-
tive use data, this highlights the importance of future research
not relying on retrospective self-report or estimated use data.
This study had several important limitations. While we did our
best to monitor and limit social media usage, we were only able
to do so on mobile phones (this was not an issue for Snapchat,
which can only be used through the mobile application). While
participants were instructed to only use Facebook, Instagram,
and Snapchat through the applications on their phones, they
still had the ability to use social media on their computers, use
friends’ phones, access the websites via the internet on their
phone, etc. Furthermore, we could not actually turn someone’s
social media off if they went over 10 minutes. While most people
were compliant with the study instructions, there were individu-
als in the experimental group who used significantly more social
media than they were supposed to.
Moreover, social media does not just include Facebook, Snap-
chat, and Instagram. While we only measured and manipulated
these three platforms, participants could still opt to go on Twit-
ter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook Messenger, dating sites, and so
on. Indeed, some subjects noted that they spent a lot more time
on dating apps, perhaps as the result of limiting other platforms.
In addition, our sample was a convenience sample of Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania students who had iPhones. We excluded
Android phone users only because tracking battery usage data
would have required downloading a separate app for those us-
ers. However, informal surveys suggested that the vast major-
ity of Penn students were iPhone users, so we are not unduly
worried about the sample being biased in this regard. However,
future studies should certainly include Android users.
Lastly, we suffered from significant attrition at follow-up, los-
ing 79% of our subjects, largely because we were forced to grant
the extra credit for participation prior to the follow-up data col-
lection time point. As a result, there was no incentive for subjects
to complete the lengthy battery or take the trouble to submit a
screen shot of their usage. This precluded reliable analysis of
post-intervention social media habits and well-being. Thus, we
were not able to assess maintenance of gains in well-being or to
determine whether people reverted to their old use patterns. Fu-
ture studies should build in incentives for subjects to continue to
participate so that this valuable data could be collected.
As our study was the first of its nature, there are many opportu-
nities for further investigation. These findings certainly bear rep-
lication with a more diverse population. The study should also
be replicated with a broader inclusion of social media platforms,
including Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. Dating apps in particu-
lar might be a fruitful avenue of investigation especially for in-
dividuals in their late teens to late twenties. Future researchers
should also incentivize follow-up participation to decrease at-
trition. This will allow for critical analyses pertaining to habit
Furthermore, moderators associated with social media use
could be assessed further. These could include number of Face-
book friends, Instagram followers, length of Snapchat streaks,
and so on. These potential moderators could be analyzed in the
context of ability to comply with the restrictions, as well as the
success of the intervention.
Lastly, the length of the intervention and the length and nature
of the limits imposed on usage could be explored in more detail
going forward. It may be that there is an optimal level of use
(similar to a dose response curve) that could be determined. This
would allow for a more nuanced understanding of the amount
of social media that is adaptive for most users. Alternatively, one
could also explore the utility and impact of apps that actually
control or limit the use of other apps (such as App Detox, An-
tiSocial, and Off the Grid). Informally, however, many students
shared with us that either they (or their parents) had tried such
apps, but that they are so easy for tech savvy young adults to
circumvent that they didn’t really work. A better strategy might
be apps that increase self-monitoring and awareness of use, such
as In Moment and Space. Empirical investigation of their efficacy
and impact might well be warranted.
Most of the prior research that has been done on social media
and well-being has been correlational in nature. A few prospec-
tive and experimental studies have been done, but they have
only focused on Facebook. Our study is the first ecologically
valid, experimental investigation that examines multiple social
media platforms and tracks actual usage objectively. The results
from our experiment strongly suggest that limiting social media
usage does have a direct and positive impact on subjective well-
being over time, especially with respect to decreasing loneliness
and depression. That is, ours is the first study to establish a clear
causal link between decreasing social media use, and improve-
ments in loneliness and depression. It is ironic, but perhaps not
surprising, that reducing social media, which promised to help
us connect with others, actually helps people feel less lonely and
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... The use of these technologies has already increased continuously before the pandemic (14). However, in non-pandemic times the use of virtual technologies has also been linked to higher levels of loneliness (15,16). Hence, it is still up for debate whether their use is the cause or the consequence of feeling lonely, that is, being less socially connected than one would wish (17,18). ...
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Background Interpersonal impairments in borderline personality disorder (BPD) are characterised by a lack in the sense of belonging and the fear of being excluded. One feature of interactions that can promote a sense of social belonging is interpersonal touch. While some studies suggest that individuals with BPD experience social touch as less pleasurable than healthy individuals (HCs), there are no studies that investigated whether this difference is associated with feeling less socially connected. This question is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, since one central behavioural recommendation is “social distancing”. An increase in loneliness has been discussed as a consequence and it has been suggested that individuals with BPD may be particularly burdened. However, the primary goal of “social distancing” is not preventing social contacts, but physical proximity. In our study we investigated the interplay between feeling close to others, contact frequency and the appraisal of social touch in BPD. We were additionally interested in whether these factors contribute to the burden through “physical distancing”. Methods We assessed subjective and objective social isolation, the need, importance, and liking of social touch, as well as the burden through “physical distancing” policies in 130 women (61 BPD and 69 HCs). Results Participants of the BPD group reported higher loneliness, less social contacts and a lower need for, importance and liking of social touch compared to HCs. Larger social networks, higher frequency of in-person contacts and higher liking and importance of social touch were associated with lower levels of loneliness. Both groups did not differ regarding their burden through “physical distancing”. A higher need for and lower importance of social touch predicted a higher burden through “physical distancing”. Conclusions A positive appraisal of social touch was associated with less loneliness, independently of an individual's objective social isolation. In BPD, impairments of this fundamental facet of social interaction might hamper forming and strengthening of social bonds and contribute to the patients' interpersonal dysfunction. Changing the attitude towards social touch and in consequence its liking and importance in social interaction might provide one avenue to improve the sense of social connectedness in these patients.
... Research has indicated that individuals ages 19-23 who were previously diagnosed with depression are significantly more likely to increase daily social media use (Lin et al., 2016). Social media platforms themselves has been found to exacerbate feelings of loneliness and depression, including a significant correlation between increased social media use and feelings of depression, isolation, and 'fear of missing out' (Hunt et al., 2018). Since the rise of social media outlets in the early 2000s and beyond (McIntosh, 2003), numerous studies have investigated the escalation of feelings of isolation and loneliness as individuals turn online to seek social interaction through screen time. ...
Tabletop roleplaying games are a form of in-person, multiplayer games structured around group interaction, set rules of gameplay, strategic group decision-making, and active character roleplaying. While such games have existed in some form for thousands of years, more recent and modern versions such as Dungeons & Dragons and Call of Cthulhu have increased attention not only to their use as a form of entertainment, but as a potential extension of play and drama therapies in a clinical setting (Henrich & Worthington, 2021). Research into therapeutic roleplaying, both with and without gameplay supervision, has shown a promising association with increased understanding of self-concept and connection to community (House, 1970; Winn, 1959) as well as a reduction in depression and anxiety (Burroughs, Wagner & Johnson, 1997; Wilde, 1994). However, historical investigations have primarily concentrated on younger age groups, where play and drama therapies are most frequently employed with a focus on individual development and social connections. Recent studies have only just begun to investigate tabletop roleplaying games as a form of therapy; most have involved case-studies that apply theoretical and anecdotal, rather than clinical, evidence of the game’s effective use as a mechanism of therapeutic treatment (Blackmon, 1994; Hughes, 1988). The current study aimed to extend tabletop roleplaying games research to a larger, more varied age group (N = 184, Average age = 19.2) through an online survey. We assessed participants’ experience with the game and reasons to participate in gameplay, and examined any correlations between levels of depression, anxiety, and amount of participation in tabletop roleplaying games. Results indicated that participants generally felt that tabletop roleplaying games supported their mental health and well-being, particularly in the context of roleplaying in their character’s mindset. We also found that frequency of play was negatively associated with symptoms of depression and anxiety, even when controlling for predictors on the Ten Item Personality Measure such as conscientiousness and emotional stability (Gosling et al., 2003). This may suggest that individuals experiencing depression or social anxiety turn to tabletop roleplaying games as a method to respond and cope with these symptoms. The implications of these results, as well as directions for further research in this burgeoning field are discussed.
... It means that where social media is eliminating loneliness it increases the risk of depressive disorders among users. These findings are consistent with the findings of an experimental study conducted by Hunt et al. (2018) which discovered that limiting social media usage had significant positive impact on mental health of the users in terms of decreased depression. Additionally, fear of missing out is really a new concept in youth based research. ...
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Social media is playing both positive and negative role on the mental health of individuals. The core objective of the study was in twofold i.e. to investigate the relationship between social media, loneliness and depression among youth and to analyze the magnitude of effect of loneliness, depression and social media usage among youth. A cross sectional study was conducted on the students of three renown public universities of Southern Punjab, Pakistan and N=384 respondents were approached through simple random sampling technique. Data was collected through questionnaire based four distinct parts i.e. socio-demographic profile, UCLA loneliness scale by Russel, Peplau and Ferguson (1978), Young Internet Addiction Test Short Form (YIAT-SF) by Young (1998) and items of depression were retrieved from Symptom Check List (SCL-90-R) by Derogatis (1977). Data was analyzed through Statistical Package for social sciences SPSS-21 version. Basic profile of the respondents was demonstrated through frequency and percentage while relationship and magnitude of effect of loneliness, depression and social media usage was analyzed through Pearson correlation coefficient P<0.01<0.05 and linear regression analysis. Findings of the study showed a positive significant relationship between depression and social media and little significant relationship between loneliness and social media. While depression was highly effected by social media usage and loneliness was little affected through social media usage. This study concluded that social media not only give benefits to people but also produce loneliness and severe depression among youth.
... However, users may also feel disconnected and experience negative emotions associated with concerns about judgement from others and envy. When used heavily, social media use is associated with greater emotional difficulties such as loneliness, depressed mood, tearfulness, and anxiety [6][7][8][9]. However, some of these studies were conducted among adolescents, which limits the generalizability of the results. ...
... The first is a study by Qadrijati et al. (2020), which claimed that electromagnetic radiation from cellular phones and laptops caused subjective symptoms such disrupted sleep quality, headaches, dry eye syndrome, and impaired focus among UNS informatics students. The second study, "No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression," by Hunt et al (2018), indicated that Facebook and Instagram usage are both directly and indirectly linked to depression symptoms. It further claimed that more Facebook usage has been linked to reduced self- ...
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In response to transformation of educational landscape, schools all over the world have begun using digital technology to boost students’ interest and academic performance. Students have been exposed to new learning methods that involve technology. However, excessive and irresponsible use of digital technology may lead to more dangers than benefits. Some of these disadvantages such as poor academic performance, academic failure, or unsatisfactory grades (Flanagan, 2008) prove that an increased amount of time that the youth spend on these activities poses negative effects to their online learning. This prompted the researchers to conduct a study on the advantages and drawbacks of digital technology. It used an explanatory-sequential research design and utilized convenience sampling for the quantitative phase using questionnaire. There were 15 participants randomly selected from 100 BSED students Major in Science for the qualitative phase and were also interviewed using Guide Questions. The qualitative data was evaluated using thematic analysis, while the quantitative data was analyzed through descriptive statistical analysis and exploratory factor analysis using Jeffrey's Amazing Statistics Application (JASP). Findings revealed that students use various digital technologies for both educational and non-educational purposes, such as smartphones and Google Classroom, and Facebook and Mobile Legends, respectively. The impact of digital technology on students' online learning can be either favorable or detrimental, depending on the students' experiences, perspective or attitude, and utilization.
The recent rise in the prevalence of loneliness, particularly among young adults, coupled with its deleterious effects on wellbeing, makes understanding the issue of pressing concern. As most research on loneliness has focused on older adults, this study explored how 48 young adults aged 18–24 subjectively experienced loneliness through free association‐based interviews. Participants were sampled from the four most deprived boroughs in London, as area deprivation has been associated with a higher prevalence of loneliness. This facilitates understanding of contributors and consequences of loneliness within this demographic group. In particular, the focus is on rumination arising from loneliness; while the link between the two is well‐established quantitively, research into rumination and the context of ruminative thoughts in the context of loneliness remains sparse. Thus, this study aimed to understand the subjective experience of rumination in young adults whilst they experienced loneliness. Thematic analysis of interviews using ATLAS.ti 9 revealed five themes capturing these experiences: ‘temporal experience of rumination’, ‘ruminating life and death’, ‘rumination related to others’, ‘outcomes of rumination’ and ‘coping with loneliness‐related rumination’. Based upon knowledge of the nature and content of rumination, further research could devise models of rumination and interventions targeted at rumination such as mindfulness meditation, journaling and engaging in prosocial behaviour, to mitigate the adverse effects loneliness can have on wellbeing.
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With the spread of COVID-19, learning methodology has advanced to the present level of technology, and online learning has increased worldwide. Thus, the Philippines' situation with this learning modality influences mental health disorders, notably self-esteem, which is associated with depression. Moreover, this study investigates the relationship between self-esteem and depression among senior high school students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The statistical analysis showed a significant relationship between self-esteem and depression (r=.014).
Purpose We aim to investigate youth insight about how their social media use affects them. We hope to understand if and how they self-modulate their use. Methods Using a text message-based platform, codable survey responses were returned by a minimum of 871 of 1,144 youth aged 14-24 in November, 2020. Youth were asked the following three questions: (1) What advice would you give to young people who are new to social media? (2) Have you ever felt like you need to change your social media use (what you view, time spent, etc.)? Why? (3) Have you ever deleted or thought about deleting your social media account(s)? Why? A codebook was created from the data and two coders independently coded the entirety of the data set using the 18-code codebook. Coders resolved discrepancies in coding patterns together and the frequency of each code was recorded. Results Youth showed insight about negative impacts of social media and were especially concerned about safety on social media. A majority of respondents deleted or thought about deleting their social media account or app. Youth were more likely to report wanting to change the amount of time spent on their social media compared to the content they view. Discussion Youth are aware of ways in which social media could be negatively impacting them and they have employed methods to modulate their use because of this awareness.
The association between computer-mediated communication (CMC) and well-being is a complex, consequential, and hotly debated topic that has received significant attention from pundits, researchers, and the media. Conflicting research findings and fear over negative outcomes have spurred both moral panic and further research into these associations. To create a more comprehensive picture of trends, explanations, and future directions in this domain of research, we conducted a systematic meso-level review of 366 studies across 349 articles published since 2007 that report associations between CMC and well-being. Although most of this research is not explicitly theoretical, several potential theoretical mechanisms for positive and negative effects of CMC on well-being are utilized. The heterogeneity of effects in the studies we reviewed could be explained by the discipline in which the research is conducted, the methodology used, the types of CMC and well-being examined, and the population studied. Our evaluation of this body of research highlights the importance of attending to how we conceptualize communication and well-being, the questions we ask, and the populations and contexts we study when both reading and producing research on CMC and well-being.
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The development of an adequate assessment instrument is a necessary prerequisite for social psychological research on loneliness. Two studies provide methodological refinement in the measurement of loneliness. Study 1 presents a revised version of the self-report UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Loneliness Scale, designed to counter the possible effects of response bias in the original scale, and reports concurrent validity evidence for the revised measure. Study 2 demonstrates that although loneliness is correlated with measures of negative affect, social risk taking, and affiliative tendencies, it is nonetheless a distinct psychological experience.
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As the use and influence of social networking continues to grow, researchers have begun to explore its consequences for psychological well-being. Some research suggests that Facebook use can have negative consequences for well-being. Instagram, a photo-sharing social network created in 2010, has particular characteristics that may make users susceptible to negative consequences. This study tested a theoretically grounded moderated meditation model of the association between Instagram use and depressive symptoms through the mechanism of negative social comparison, and moderation by amount of strangers one follows. One hundred and seventeen 18-29 year olds completed online questionnaires containing demographics, frequency of Instagram use, amount of strangers followed on Instagram, the Center for Epidemiological Resources Scale for Depression, and the Social Comparison Rating Scale. Instagram use was marginally positively associated with depressive symptoms, and positive social comparison was significantly negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Amount of strangers followed moderated the associations of Instagram use with social comparison (significantly) and depressive symptoms (marginally), and further significantly moderated the indirect association of Instagram use with depressive symptoms through social comparison. Findings generally suggest that more frequent Instagram use has negative associations for people who follow more strangers, but positive associations for people who follow fewer strangers, with social comparison and depressive symptoms. Implications of negative associations of social networking for people who follow strangers and the need for more research on Instagram use given its increasing popularity are explored.
In two nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents in grades 8 through 12 (N = 506,820) and national statistics on suicide deaths for those ages 13 to 18, adolescents’ depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates increased between 2010 and 2015, especially among females. Adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spent more time on nonscreen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services) were less likely. Since 2010, iGen adolescents have spent more time on new media screen activities and less time on nonscreen activities, which may account for the increases in depression and suicide. In contrast, cyclical economic factors such as unemployment and the Dow Jones Index were not linked to depressive symptoms or suicide rates when matched by year.
Most people use Facebook on a daily basis; few are aware of the consequences. Based on a 1-week experiment with 1,095 participants in late 2015 in Denmark, this study provides causal evidence that Facebook use affects our well-being negatively. By comparing the treatment group (participants who took a break from Facebook) with the control group (participants who kept using Facebook), it was demonstrated that taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that these effects were significantly greater for heavy Facebook users, passive Facebook users, and users who tend to envy others on Facebook.
Prior research indicates that Facebook usage predicts declines in subjective well-being over time. How does this come about? We examined this issue in 2 studies using experimental and field methods. In Study 1, cueing people in the laboratory to use Facebook passively (rather than actively) led to declines in affective well-being over time. Study 2 replicated these findings in the field using experience-sampling techniques. It also demonstrated how passive Facebook usage leads to declines in affective well-being: by increasing envy. Critically, the relationship between passive Facebook usage and changes in affective well-being remained significant when controlling for active Facebook use, non-Facebook online social network usage, and direct social interactions, highlighting the specificity of this result. These findings demonstrate that passive Facebook usage undermines affective well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
It is not—unless it triggers feelings of envy. This study uses the framework of social rank theory of depression and conceptualizes Facebook envy as a possible link between Facebook surveillance use and depression among college students. Using a survey of 736 college students, we found that the effect of surveillance use of Facebook on depression is mediated by Facebook envy. However, when Facebook envy is controlled for, Facebook use actually lessens depression.