Quitting Facebook boosts happiness, researchers from Denmark are now claiming, after a study involving 1,095 members of this hugely popular social network.
The analysis was conducted by experts at the Copenhagen-based Happiness Research Institute, an independent organization whose purpose is to explore the way in which the emotional and mental state of well-being is distributed across nations, cities or individuals.
During the experiment, half of the participants, with the average age of 33, were required to stop using Facebook for a period of one week, while the rest were allowed to access it as before.
A comparative analysis was undertaken between the two groups, in order to discover the effects of these prescribed behaviors on the subjects’ degree of contentment.
At the initial stage of the research, it had been determined that 94% of the respondents checked social media platforms on a daily basis. The amount of time spent every day on Facebook was of at least 30 minutes, among 76% of the participants.
Approximately 86% showed interest in the stories posted by their friends and family, going through news feeds frequently or very frequently.
When it came to self-expression, 69% declared that they enjoyed making public especially great things that had happened to them, while 61% admitted that they tended to present an altered, more appealing version of themselves on social media.
At the end of the study period, researchers analyzed levels of comfort and satisfaction, as self-reported by individuals from both groups.
It was revealed that those who had been asked not to use Facebook anymore for a period of one week had higher rates of happiness, as well as diminished prevalence of negative emotions.
Around 88% of the respondents who had put online networking on halt declared that they were feeling glad, in comparison with 81% of those who had continued to access such services.
Moreover, 84% of those who were on a break stated that they took pleasure in their lives, in contrast with 75% of the individuals who hadn’t stopped using Facebook.
Respondents who had sworn off social media for a week also claimed that they had felt disconnected from others, angry or depressed on fewer occasions. Moreover, they said they now had less difficulty concentrating, greatly improved social lives, and a rejuvenated zest for life.
Their levels of anxiety were also diminished: 41% of them claimed they had been distressed, while 55% of the people who had remained active social media consumers agreed with this assessment. In addition, 12% of them described themselves as dissatisfied, whereas 20% of the ones who had used Facebook continuously made this claim.
Moreover, the probability of experiencing stress was approximately 55% higher among those who had indulged in social networking services without interruption.
The study has stirred some criticism, given the fact that it was applied on Danish people who are already notoriously happy, and that the trial period was too short.
Also, contesters say that self-reporting reduces objectivity, and that results don’t necessarily suggest a cause and effect relationship between Facebook use and the respondents’ moods.
Prior studies have actually shown that online networking can sometimes generate more positive feelings, and that leaving the platform can result in anxiety, due to “fear of missing out” (FoMO).
However, researchers insist that their findings are valid, and draw attention to the fact that social media might negatively impact personal well-being.
By exposing individuals to distorted, cosmeticized versions of other people’s lives, Facebook and other similar online platforms cause a lingering sense of dissatisfaction, inadequacy and frustration.
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