Does social media actually make you happy?

The majority of studies conducted in the past have suggested that limiting social media time can have a positive impact on one’s life. In fact, many people have exclaimed that they were able to build better relationships when their phones weren’t’ around.

However, a recent study says that quitting social media may not make people happier.

The study conducted at the University of Kentucky found that there was no change noted in the mood of people who quit social media for 7 14, 21, or 28 days – or even if they continued to use it as a norm.

During the research, all participants completed a daily diary where they rated their loneliness, well-being, and quality of the day. However, the results showed no effect of social media abstinence.

FOMO – The Fear of Missing out

A study titled, ‘The Social Media Party: Fear of Missing Out, Social Media Intensity, Connection, and Well-being’ emphasizes that the ‘fear of missing out’ is also connected with a person’s psychological well-being.

Led by James A. Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing, and Meredith David, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, the study said that some type of FOMO affects around 75% of young adults.

However, social media helps bridge those gaps by exposing users with more social opportunities. Simply the idea of fitting in makes many people happier – and social media does just that.

On the contrary, the study also said that the most negative aspect of social media is that it allows users to get a glimpse of people without ‘interacting.’ This phenomenon called ‘creeping’ does not enhance social connections and may lower levels of happiness.

The right engagement matters

Gretchen Clum, the associate professor at the School of Public Health at Tulane University says that using social media or limiting the use is not the point – what matters is how it is utilized.

He said that positive outcomes could be expected when social media is used in a responsible and timely manner. However, overusing it or avoiding physical interactions, as a result, may influence the wellbeing in a negative way.

Catherine McKinley, assistant professor at the School of Social Work at Tulane University also says that changes in the level of happiness usually happen with time and is a result of many things – not just quitting social media.

Balancing the use of social media

The different studies also suggested that social media is often found to be the thread that links many family members and friends together. In today’s digital age, social media network has made it very convenient for people to connect with their loved ones – regardless of their geographical location. And quitting social media altogether may make them feel isolated from their friends and family.

Of course, the professionals also said that social media should be part of a balanced life that includes other forms of social engagement as well. It should not interfere with studies, work, sleep, exercise, and productivity.

Additionally, social media usage should be limited if the person is potentially exposed to negative vibes through these platforms such as bullying or promotion of substance use.

Read next: Study shows that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube still fail to curb the spread of manipulation on the platforms
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