Out of these categories, the study's results showed both a clinically and statistically significant decrease in loneliness and depression for the group that limited their social media time to ten minutes per app daily. The study notes that the persons in the group where social media was restricted were described their feelings of depression and loneliness were significantly reduced in comparison to members of the other group.
The students who participated in the study were all enrolled in psychology courses and were able to earn course credit for their participation.
"We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid", says Hunt. An experimental study compares the results from an experimental group with their behavior systematically modified, and a control group that's allowed to do whatever they want.
"It is ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that reducing social media, which promised to help us connect with others, actually helps people feel less lonely and depressed", the study reads.
While social media like Facebook and Instagram blurs the difference between reality and fantasy, how young women interact with online images can affect the way they feel about their own bodies, say researchers. The researchers added that limiting social media usage to "approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being".
Three weeks later the students were questioned for assessing their mental health across seven areas, including fear of missing out (FOMO), social support, autonomy and self-acceptance, loneliness, anxiety, self-esteem, and depression. They stated that it would reduce the chances of depression and feelings of loneliness within a person. Also, Twitter was not a part of the study, and users could have used that as well, slightly tarnishing the reports.
The study acknowledged it was limited in its ability to monitor students' social media usage beyond their iPhones. Perceived social validation can act as a trigger, when, in fact, the comments of strangers are meaningless when considered in any real sense.
Dr. Brian Primack is director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Younger Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 have especially high use of a range of social media platforms. "So, future research might expand findings like this by exploring different contexts of social media use". In this case the team of researchers working for the University of Pennsylvania chose to create a more elaborate study that had clear criteria and testing guidelines.