Facebook Breaks Linked To Better Moods, Less Anxiety

While there is widespread anecdotal evidence of people signing off social media — at least temporarily — for the sake of their mental health, there haven’t been any major studies examining the practice and investigating whether it works. Until now.

A new study from researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark suggests that stepping back from social media really can have positive psychological impacts.

The Danish study, titled “The Facebook Experiment,” tracked 1,095 Facebook users who were divided into two groups: a control group that continued using Facebook as usual and a test group that was asked to stop using Facebook for an entire week. Subjects were asked to complete an evaluation of their own well-being before and after the experiment.

The study found that the test group that stopped using Facebook for a week reported significantly higher levels of satisfaction with their lives – and these levels increased over the course of the study, suggesting the improvement had something to do with the break from Facebook.

Overall, the control group showed little change in life satisfaction over the study, edging up from 7.67 (out of 10) to 7.75 on average. However, the group that stopped using Facebook for a week reported life satisfaction increasing from 7.56 to 8.12 on average.

Further, the researchers conducted more in-depth inquiries about subjects’ moods on the last day of the study, and found a lower incidence of negative feelings and a higher incidence of positive feelings among the Facebook abstainers.

Thus, 88% of the abstainers reported feeling happy on the last day, compared to 81% who continued using Facebook. Similarly, 84% of abstainers said they feel like they’re enjoying life, versus 75% of Facebook users, and 61% felt enthusiastic, versus 49% for Facebook users.

Conversely, 54% of Facebook users said they felt worried, compared to just 41% of abstainers; 33% said they felt depressed, compared to 22% of abstainers; 34% felt sad, again versus 22% of abstainers; 25% felt lonely, in contrast to 16% of abstainers; and 20% felt angry, compared to 12% of abstainers.

Finally, the group that stopped using Facebook for a week reported higher levels of satisfaction with their social lives. The test group’s self-reported social happiness increased from 3.86 to 4.08 over the course of the study, while the control group edged up from 3.88 to 3.99.
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