A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology would seem to confirm what common sense and conventional wisdom have already told us: social media is making us sadder.
The study, titled No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression, studied the effect of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat usage on the levels of subjective well-being experienced by young adults.
Researchers measured social support, FOMO (fear of missing out), loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, autonomy and self-acceptance in 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania.
The subjects were then randomly assigned to either use social media as usual, or to limit the use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to 10 minutes per platform per day.
After three weeks, the limited-use group showed significant reductions in depression and loneliness.
“When you’re not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you’re actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life,” said psychologist Melissa Hunt, who conducted the study. “In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life.”
Of course, every generation has its Luddites looking for their sky-is-falling scapegoat — some new technological trend that’s touted as the root of society’s downfall. Educators in the 1940s worried that children, who were then listening to the radio an average of three hours a night, were becoming passive and antisocial; in the ’90s, that panic shifted to violent video games. At one time, the ancient Greeks even regarded books as a newfangled menace, dooming us to a world in which we could no longer memorize long passages of prose and poetry.