By John Salak –
Maybe taking a break from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other social media platforms wouldn’t hurt. Taking just a one-week vacation could provide a significant mental well-being boost.
Researchers from The University of Bath in the UK found that turning away from social media for just one week freed up about nine hours for the approximately 150 people participating in its recent study.
More free time wasn’t the only benefit. The break also resulted in a “significant” improvement in the baseline scores for depression and anxiety for these breaking participants compared to those who continued to spend time on social media platforms.
“We know that social media usage is huge and that there are increasing concerns about its mental health effects, so with this study, we wanted to see whether simply asking people to take a week’s break could yield mental health benefits,” explained lead researcher Dr. Jeff Lambert. “Scrolling social media is so ubiquitous that many of us do it almost without thinking from the moment we wake up to when we close our eyes at night.”
Lambert’s team found that many participants had significant improvements in their mood from even a short break, while their overall anxiety lessened.
“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,” Lambert noted. “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.”
The university’s work is one of many recent research projects focused on determining the impact social media and online gaming has on people. This research eventually may support new clinical treatment options to manage mental health issues.
Surprisingly, not all online activities have negative consequences. Several studies have revealed that gaming can have a different and positive impact than social media on individuals. These differences may result from gaming’s more interactive aspects than the more passive qualities of spending time on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.
One study out of Switzerland, for example, reported that customized gaming has the potential to enhance reading comprehension in young children. Other reports note that gaming can improve vision, relieve tension, build eye-hand coordination, and even develop muscle memory.
Of course, whether certain online games are more beneficial than others is still being examined. What may be evident is the need to be less dependent on online activities for social engagements.
Hence, taking a break or limiting screen time could be a balm for those already under a mental cloud.