Facebook

Let me first admit that I am indeed a hypocrite. I have no plans of deleting my Facebook account. I mean, c’mon, it’s Facebook.

But if I were a little wiser, I might act differently. According to a new study from University of Copenhagen, signing off of Facebook and not signing back on might be good for your mental health.

In the experiment, 1,095 participants were asked to either keep using Facebook as usual or to (gasp) quit Facebook for a week. They were then asked about their mood and well-being to see how they were doing.

And it turned out the ones who quit Facebook were doing pretty well. In fact, they reported feeling more satisfied with their lives and having more positive moods overall.

Some users were more likely to benefit from the Facebook hiatus than others. Specifically, the following three groups gained the most from signing off social media:

  • Heavy Facebook users
  • Passive Facebook users
  • Facebook users with more envy toward other users

Of course, it makes intuitive sense that if looking through your friends’ vacation photos sparks profound feelings of envy in you, being on Facebook probably isn’t going to make you happy. A 2015 study confirmed that while people generally feel more positive than negative emotions when browsing Facebook, envy does seem to be part of the experience.

Envy could also be part of the reason passive Facebook use is worse for mental health. Research done last year showed that passive Facebook use lowers people’s day-to-day moods over time and that it seems to do so by increasing people’s envy. The same was not true for active Facebook use, passive use of other social media, or face-to-face interactions.

Does all this mean the only path to happiness is to delete your Facebook account? Of course not.

But it does mean that social media usage can have both good and bad effects on our lives, moods and mental health. We can all benefit from reflecting on what social media adds to our lives – and making changes when the answer is “not much.”

Image: Flickr/AJC1 under CC BY-NC 2.0