Does anyone in your family ever feel any anxiety, depression, loneliness, or fear of missing out (FOMO)? If you or your family have any of these feelings, let me suggest a 2-week experiment. Researchers at Iowa state University conducted this experiment with 230 participants and found it had a positive impact in just 2 weeks. Specifically, after 2 weeks of making this one change in their behavior, the participants reported lower anxiety, depression, loneliness, and FOMO. They also felt more positive emotions like excitement and pride. So, this one daily action led to both fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions.
What did they do to produce these results? They attempted to cut back their social media use to 30 minutes a day. That’s right, they attempted to use their social media only 30 minutes a day. Notice I used the word “attempted.” The participants agreed to use social media only 30 minutes a day, but sometimes exceeded the 30-minute time limit. Good news—even if they sometimes exceeded that 30-minute usage, they experienced the same results, fewer negative emotions and more positive emotions. It seems that simply putting in the effort to minimize social media usage and becoming more aware of one’s social media usage contributed to the positive results.
If you think cutting back on social media usage sounds too difficult, let me offer some suggestions to help.
- Increase your awareness of your social media usage. Set a timer. Use your phone settings to look up how much time you engage social media sites. Use a wellness app to monitor your time on social media. In whatever way you choose, the goal remains to increase your awareness of time spent on social media.
- Be kind to yourself. Show yourself compassion. It’s not easy to make changes. Social media apps are designed to keep you engaged so it may prove difficult to make this change. Stick with it. Don’t give up. Even attempting to do this brings positive results.
- Make it a 2-week experiment, not an indefinite change. Do it for 2-weeks then assess how well you did and the impact on your emotions and relationships. Have your feelings of anxiety or depression lessoned? Do you find yourself enjoying more face-to-face interactions? Do you feel less lonely? Are you sleeping better?
- If you don’t want to make it a lifestyle change, make it a “one-week-a-month change.” Even doing this for periods of time will have a positive effect. Take a social media vacation once a month or once a quarter…whatever you choose.
I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the impact that this experiment will have on you and your family. Less anxiety, less depression, less loneliness, more excitement…seems worth the try to me.