Does Reducing Social Media Use Have an Effect on Loneliness and Social Comparisons?Public Deposited
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Social media and mental health issues have become increasingly prevalent in recent years raising questions about the psychological effects of excessive social media use (SMU), especially amongst transitional-aged youth (TAY). The present study experimentally investigated the effects of voluntarily reducing SMU to 1 hour/day on loneliness and social comparisons in TAY with pre-existing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression. After completing a baseline survey and providing daily screenshots of SMU for one week, 220 participants were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group for the next three weeks. Participants completed an online follow-up survey at 4-weeks post randomization to assess changes in loneliness and social comparisons. A repeated measures analysis of variance indicated that the intervention group showed significantly greater reductions in loneliness but not in social comparisons. The findings suggest that reducing SMU may represent a feasible, affordable and effective strategy in reducing loneliness for TAY with emotional distress.
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