It’s hard to determine if there are any clear and lasting benefits to quitting social media. There are no published studies that have evaluated the long-term impacts of permanently quitting social media. This is probably because it is difficult to find participants who would accept being randomly assigned the task of leaving social media for good.
An important consideration is that a percentage of people who leave social media will eventually return. Reasons for returning include feeling left out, fearing loss of connections, wanting to regain access to interesting or useful information, feeling social pressure to rejoin, or simply feeling that quitting was not the right choice.
Even if the researchers find a large enough group of people willing to quit social media for good, long-term follow-up would be resource-intensive. Beyond that, it would be difficult to calculate whether a participant’s increase or decrease in life satisfaction is due to leaving social media and not to other factors.
As such, there is currently no evidence that quitting social media has any concrete long-term benefits. And in the short term, the results are mixed. However, that does not mean that leaving them for a short or long period is not beneficial for some people. Any potential benefits are likely to depend on the person leaving and why.
For example, the consensus emerging from the research is that how you use social media plays a big role in how negative or positive your experience is. By using social media carefully, users can minimize potential harm and retain benefits. For some, just one platform may cause concern. If you don’t really like Instagram’s tendency to focus too much on people’s private lives, you can simply stop using Instagram.
Another technique is to curate your social media feeds by only engaging with content that you find useful and positive. For example, many young women take steps to avoid seeing perfect bodies all day on their social media.
Take a break from one or more types of social media. After a while, ask yourself if the benefits seem worth it. If the answer is “yes”, make the break permanent.
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