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Social media use increases depression and loneliness. That's the finding of a new study that looked into the link between time spent online and poor mental health.
Experts have long theorised that a causal connection existed between the two but this has never been proven conclusively, claim researchers.
Connection - Levels - Facebook - Instagram - Use
They say they have now found a connection between high levels of Facebook and Instagram use and decreased well-being.
As a result, they advise that people limit the time they spend on these kind of sites to a maximum of 30 minutes.
Life - Way - People - Online - Link
Avoiding comparing your life to the way other people portray their own online may also help to break this link, they report.
Few previous studies have attempted to show that social-media use harms users' well-being, says University of Pennsylvania researcher Melissa Hunt, who led the research.
Put - Participants - Situations - Scope
Those that have either put participants in unrealistic situations or were limited in scope, she claims.
This includes asking them to completely forego Facebook and relying on self-report data, for example, or conducting the work in a lab in as little time as an hour.
Study - Dr - Hunt - Director - Training
'We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,' said Dr Hunt, associate director of clinical training at the university's psychology department.
Dr Hunt says the findings do offer two related conclusions it couldn't hurt any social-media user to follow.
Tools - Society - Way - Effects - Dr
Because these tools are here to stay, it's incumbent on society to figure out how to use them in a way that limits damaging effects, Dr Hunt said.
Reducing opportunities for social comparison may also help.
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She added: 'When you're not busy getting sucked into clickbait social media, you're actually spending more time on things that are more likely to make you feel better about your life.'
'In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people...
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