Through the looking glass: Had you pitched the concept of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to people 20 years ago, it would have sounded like an exciting new take on socializing that would bring friends and family even closer together. The reality for millions of people around the globe, however, is quite the opposite as practice – and now, data – has proven.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that limiting social media usage can significantly reduce the feeling of loneliness and depression.

In a study titled “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression,” researchers monitored the social media usage of 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. After a week of baseline monitoring, the participants were randomly split into groups. Some were allowed to use Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat as usual for three weeks while the others had to limit usage to 10 minutes per day, per platform.

Participants were required to submit screenshots of their iPhone battery usage at specified increments to verify usage.

The group that had limited usage exhibited significant reductions in depression and loneliness over the three-week period versus the control group that was allowed to use social media unabated.

Interestingly enough, both groups showed meaningful decreases in fear of missing out and anxiety which suggests there could be a real benefit to the simple act of self-monitoring. It’s probably no surprise, then, that we’ve seen companies like Apple and Google, who control distribution channels, release screen time management features in recent months.

Lead image via eldar nurkovic, Shutterstock