Just 20 minutes less on Facebook improves wellbeing, according to a study carried out by researchers in Germany.
A team from the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Germany’s Ruhr-Universität Bochum recruited 286 people who used Facebook for at least 25 minutes a day. The average usage time per day was approximately an hour.
The researchers subdivided participants into two groups: the control group (n=146) used Facebook as usual and the intervention group (n=140) reduced their Facebook usage by 20 minutes a day for two weeks, which is about one third of the average usage time.
All participants were tested prior to the study, one week into it, at the end of the two-week experiment, and again one month and three months later. Using online questionnaires, the research team surveyed participants the way they used Facebook, and their well-being and lifestyle.
Life satisfaction significantly increased, and depressive symptoms significantly decreased. Frequency of physical activity significantly increased, and the number of cigarettes smoked per day also decreased. Effects remained stable during three months of follow-up.
The findings are timely given the role of social media in disseminating information during the COVID-19 pandemic.