Spending less time on Facebook could boost your well-being and happiness

Facebook on Friday said it is banning content that promotes "conversion therapy

New European research has found that spending just 20 minutes less time on Facebook each day could increase our happiness and healthy lifestyle habits.

Carried out by a team of psychologists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Germany, the new study looked at 286 participants who used Facebook for an average of an hour each day.

Of these participants, 140 were asked to reduce their Facebook use by 20 minutes each day over a two-week period, which is about one third of the average usage time, while the remaining 146 participants acted as the control group and carried on using Facebook as usual.

The participants were asked to complete questionnaires recording their Facebook use, their well-being (such as depressive symptoms) and their lifestyle (such as physical activity and smoking habits) before the start of the study, one week into it, at the end of the two weeks, and one month and three months after the study had finished.

The findings, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, showed that the participants who were told to reduce 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," commented lead author Dr. Julia Brailovskaia.

In addition, those who used Facebook less were also significantly more physically active, smoked less, were significantly more satisfied with their life, showed significantly fewer symptoms of depression, and showed fewer symptoms of addiction to Facebook after the two weeks, compared to the control group. These positive effects could also still be seen three months after the study had ended.

"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," said Dr. Brailovskaia, who added that the findings suggest that just reducing the amount of time we spend on Facebook each day could be enough to increase our well-being and prevent addiction.

"It's not necessary to give up the platform altogether," concludes Dr. Brailovskaia.