Taking a One-Week Break from Social Media Improves Well-Being, Depression, and Anxiety: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Jeffrey Lambert, George Barnstable, Eleanor Minter, Jemima Cooper, Desmond McEwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study aimed to understand the effects of a 1-week break from social media (SM) (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok) on well-being, depression, and anxiety compared with using SM as usual. We also aimed to understand whether time spent on different SM platforms mediates the relationship between SM cessation and well-being, depression, and anxiety. We randomly allocated 154 participants (mean age of 29.6 years) to either stop using SM (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok) for 1 week or continue to use SM as usual. At a 1-week follow-up, significant between-group differences in well-being (mean difference [MD] 4.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.0-6.8), depression (MD -2.2, 95% CI -3.3 to -1.1), and anxiety (MD -1.7, 95% CI -2.8 to -0.6) in favor of the intervention group were observed, after controlling for baseline scores, age, and gender. The intervention effect on well-being was partially mediated by a reduction in total weekly self-reported minutes on SM. The intervention effect on depression and anxiety was partially mediated by a reduction in total weekly self-reported minutes on Twitter and TikTok, and TikTok alone, respectively. The present study shows that asking people to stop using SM for 1 week leads to significant improvements in well-being, depression, and anxiety. Future research should extend this to clinical populations and examine effects over the longer term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume25
Issue number5
Early online date3 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mediation
  • mental health
  • social media
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications

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