Cutting down time on Facebook helps ditch unhealthy habits

Encouraging Facebook users to spend less time on the platform could bring a number of other significant benefits to people’s lifestyles and health, a study has found.

Researchers from Ruhr University Bochum in Germany recruited 286 people for a study looking at the broader impacts that the social media platform has on users’ lives.

They subdivided the participants into two groups: the control group comprised of 146 people who used Facebook as usual and the other 140 people who reduced their Facebook usage by 20 minutes a day for two weeks (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 finally one month and three months later.

In follow up questionnaires, they found that participants in the group that had reduced their Facebook usage time used the platform less, both actively and passively.

“This is significant, because passive use in particular leads to people comparing themselves with others and thus experiencing envy and a reduction in psychological well-being,” said researcher Julia Brailovskaia.

Participants who reduced their Facebook usage time also smoked fewer cigarettes than before, were more active physically and showed fewer depressive symptoms than the control group.

“After the two-week period of Facebook detox, these effects, i.e. the improvement of well-being and a healthier lifestyle, lasted until the final checks three months after the experiment,” said Brailovskaia adding: “It’s not necessary to give up the platform altogether.”

According to the researchers, this is an indication that simply reducing the amount of time spent on Facebook every day could be enough to prevent addictive behaviour, improve wellbeing, and support a healthier lifestyle.

Last year researchers demonstrated a close positive association between daily stress and depression symptoms and what has become known as Facebook Addiction Disorder.

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