Taking just one week off from social media could improve your mental health, study finds

One week away from your favourite social media platforms improves your wellbeing, and reduces depression and anxiety, a study found.

The study published in Cyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking compared the effects of a one-week break from social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, on wellbeing, depression, and anxiety with the normal use of social media.

The researchers enrolled 154 people with an average age of 29.6 years. They were divided into two groups. Some participants had to stop using social media for one week, while others continued as usual. The researchers monitored participants’ social media use by means of apps that track screen time.

At the start of the study, the participants filled in a survey that measured their anxiety, depression and wellbeing. After one week, they filled in a follow-up questionnaire.

Improvement in mental health

The study found that taking a week-long break from social media led to significant improvements in wellbeing, depression, and anxiety. The research results adds to previous evidence that a short hiatus from social media can positively impact wellbeing and reduce depression.

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“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,” said lead researcher Dr Jeff Lambert in a press statement.

The researchers say they will be conducting further studies to determine the clinical effects of taking a social media break.