Leaving Facebook could make you happier, study suggests

The numerous scandals swirling around the tech giant over the past few months have made no difference in our usage really. There is no denying the fact that we are possibly addicted to Facebook.  Facebook and other social media platforms have set up such reward systems which are rather similar to gambling or substance abuse cravings.

People from all age groups are somewhat addicted to this social media app and has led to another concern, screen addiction. Increasing screen addiction, particularly in children, has left parents no other option but to restrict screen time by using monitoring apps, like TrackMyFone or Xnspy.

Leaving Facebook could make you happier, study suggests

A new study found out that leaving Facebook can make us happier.

The researchers found out that when the participants left Facebook for a month, they were happier, more active, less politically informed and had lesser chances of going back to Facebook.

The study was conducted by researchers at Stanford and New York University. The researchers measured wellbeing of the 2,844 individuals for a month after they quit Facebook for a month. The study found that this action not only made their subjects wellbeing better but increased the time they used in doing other activities. Even after the study was over, this led to a massive reduction in their Facebook usage.

Titled The Welfare Effects of Social Media, this study is being commended as the most rigorous studies to find out what happens to people when they log off Facebook. Most people who don’t know this but logging off can prove to be as positive as you would want it to be that leads to improved and enhanced subjective wellbeing, less political drama and attention span agitation, as well as more quality time spent with family and friends.

Mattew Gentzkow, co-author of the study and economist at Stanford reported to the New York Times. “I would have expected more substitution from Facebook to other digital things—Twitter, Snapchat, online browsing that didn’t happen, and for me at least, it was a surprise.”

The study assigned the participants randomly to deactivate their Facebook accounts for a month. They were also paid for their participation in the study and their accounts were also monitored. The researchers made sure that they upheld their commitment and their accounts were deactivated. Also, during the “detox,” the authors kept in touch with the participants to ask how they were feeling.

The participants deactivated their Facebook pages for a whole month and then relying on the follow-up survey of the participants during their Facebook cleanse period, researchers found that leaving social media had both positive and negative effects.

The researchers said in their report, “Our participants’ answers in…Follow-up interviews make clear the diverse ways in which Facebook can improve people’s lives, whether as a source of entertainment, a means to organize a charity or an activist group, or a vital social lifeline for those who are otherwise isolated.”

Moreover, the researchers also said that Facebook is valuable based on the fact that, an average user spends 60 minutes on it and people valued the four weeks of access at $100 or more. They said that even though social media has its disadvantages, it cannot hide the basic reality that social media fulfils widespread needs as well.

At the same time, the downsides of social media are apparent as well. The biggest example is the result of the study itself that after taking a break from Facebook people use it less. And forces like addiction and projection bias may lead people to use Facebook more than they should.

In a nutshell, the research reveals that Facebook’s negative impacts are big enough to be real issues but at the same time, smaller in many cases than what one might have expected given prior research and popular discussion.”

When people were asked to deactivate their accounts for a month, even for money, the process caused albeit small, but substantial improvement in well-being, especially on quality of life, happiness, anxiety, and depression.

The researchers concluded, “Effects on subjective wellbeing as measured by responses to brief daily text messages are positive but not significant.”