Reducing Facebook usage may lead to healthier lifestyle, more well-being: Study

Berlin, Mar 13 (PTI) Reducing Facebook usage time is linked to smoking fewer cigarettes, better physical activity, and fewer depressive symptoms, according to a study which suggests that less frequent use of the social media platform may prevent addictive behaviour.

The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, assessed 286 people who were on Facebook for at least 25 minutes a day, with an average usage time of an hour per day.

The researchers, including those from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, subdivided the participants into two groups.

One was a control group comprising of 146 people who used Facebook as usual, and another was a group of 140 individuals who reduced their usage of the platform by 20 minutes a day for two weeks -- about one third of the average usage time.

According to the scientists, all the participants were tested prior to the study, one week into it, at the end of the two-week experiment, and finally one month and three months later.

They surveyed the way the participants used Facebook, their well-being, and their lifestyle.

The study noted that participants in the group that had reduced their Facebook usage time used the platform less, both actively, and passively.

'This is significant, because passive use in particular leads to people comparing themselves with others and thus experiencing envy and a reduction in psychological well-being,' said Julia Brailovskaia, study co-author from Ruhr-University Bochum.

According to the scientists, participants who reduced their Facebook usage time, smoked fewer cigarettes than before, were more active physically, and showed fewer depressive symptoms than the control group, with their satisfaction with life reportedly increasing.

'After the two-week period of Facebook detox, these effects, i.e. the improvement of well-being and a healthier lifestyle, lasted until the final checks three months after the experiment,' Brailovskaia said.

The scientists believe this is an indication that simply reducing the amount of time spent on Facebook every day could be enough to prevent addictive behaviour, increase well-being, and support a healthier lifestyle.

'It's not necessary to give up the platform altogether,' Brailovskaia said. PTI VIS VIS VIS