In brief: Do you want an easy way to improve your mental state and general wellbeing? Then Quit Facebook. We’ve long known that the social network isn’t good for our health, and a new study has shown what it claims is proof.
A paper called “The Economic Effects of Facebook,” which was published this week in the journal Experimental Economics, examined 1,769 Texas A&M undergrads in 2017. The students were split into two groups: one that never accessed Facebook for a week and another that kept on using the site.
The participants spent a mean time of 1.9 hours per day on Facebook, which is a lot more than the estimated average of 38 minutes for US citizens. About 15 to 30 minutes of that time was spent consuming news.
“Overall, the effects our study finds on news awareness, news consumption, feelings of depression, and daily activities show that Facebook has significant effects on important aspects of life not directly related to building and supporting social networks,” the experiment found.
Additionally, those who weren’t using Facebook didn’t turn to traditional media as a substitute for the news they’d been consuming on the social media site.
In addition to avoiding what is usually quite depressing news, the group that stayed off Facebook also found they ate out less, made fewer impulse purchases, and were more efficient with their time, among other beneficial behaviors.
“Our results suggest that using Facebook induces feelings of depression,” wrote the researchers, which is something that’s been found in other studies.
One of the study’s concerning finds is that many people rely almost solely on Facebook for their news, which still has a problem with fake items. It’s launching a dedicated news tab either later this year or in 2020 that will be curated by journalists, so that should help weed out false stories, but if you want to feel better, maybe step away from the site for a while.