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Spending less time on social media improves your mental health

In an increasingly digitized world, social media has become an integral part of many people’s lives, spanning across generations. While some studies suggest that engaging with social media can boost mood, others indicate that it may have a negative impact on mental health, leading to the phenomenon known as Fear of Missing Out (FoMO).

In a recent study conducted by Associate Professor Julia Brailovskaia and her team from the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr University Bochum, Germany, and the German Center for Mental Health, new evidence emerged regarding the effects of social media use on job satisfaction and mental health. The study revealed compelling insights into the relationship between social media use and overall well-being.

Studying social media and mood swings

The research team designed a one-week study involving 166 participants working in various sectors, who spent a minimum of 35 minutes a day engaging in non-work-related social media use.

The participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group continued their usual social media habits, while the other group reduced their social media use by 30 minutes per day for seven days.

The participants completed online questionnaires before the study, on the day after it commenced, and one week later. These questionnaires provided valuable data on workload, job satisfaction, commitment, mental health, stress levels, FoMO, and behaviors indicating addictive social media use.

What the team learned

The team’s findings revealed that a mere 30-minute reduction in daily social media use had significant positive effects on job satisfaction and mental health.

Julia Brailovskaia stated, “The participants in this group felt less overworked and were more committed on the job than the control group.”

Moreover, the participants’ sense of FoMO decreased, indicating reduced anxieties associated with missing out on important events in their networks. These improvements persisted for at least a week after the end of the study and, in some instances, even increased over time.

Encouragingly, participants who voluntarily reduced their social media use continued to maintain the habit even after the study’s conclusion.

Social media and work performance

The study suggests that the observed improvements can be attributed to reduced feelings of being overworked and increased attention focused on job tasks.

Brailovskaia explains, “Our brains can’t cope well with constant distraction from a task. People who frequently stop what they’re doing to catch up on their social media feed find it more difficult to focus and achieve poorer results.”

By freeing up time from social media use, participants had more opportunity to prioritize their work responsibilities and avoid divided attention.

Social media and personal relationships

Another significant finding from the study emphasized the potential negative impact of excessive social media use on interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

Spending excessive time on social media may hinder face-to-face interaction with colleagues, potentially leading to feelings of alienation. Limiting social media use could help mitigate this effect and encourage real-life interactions among colleagues, fostering a more supportive work environment.

The study’s results align with previous research conducted by the team. It suggests that even a modest reduction of 20 to 30 minutes in daily social media consumption can alleviate depressive symptoms and improve overall mental health.

Julia Brailovskaia suggests that incorporating a reduction in social media use as a component of business coaching training, mental health programs, and psychotherapeutic interventions could yield valuable benefits for individuals’ well-being and job performance.

Finding a healthy balance

As social media continues to permeate our daily lives, it is crucial to understand its potential impacts on job satisfaction and mental health. The study conducted by Associate Professor Julia Brailovskaia and her team highlights the positive effects of reducing social media use by just 30 minutes per day on job satisfaction and mental health.

In summary, by affording individuals more focused work time, reducing stress levels, and fostering authentic interpersonal connections, limiting social media use can enhance the overall well-being and performance of employees. These findings underline the significance of addressing social media use as a factor in promoting employee mental health and job satisfaction.

The full study was published in the journal Behavior and Information Technology.


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