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How therapy can address problematic social media use

A new study sheds light on how a therapy-based approach is important to tackle problematic social media use

A new study shows how therapy can be effective in tackling problematic social media use.
A new study shows how therapy can be effective in tackling problematic social media use. (Pexels)

In recent years, excessive social media has been linked to a decline in mental health. A 2022 study by researchers from MIT Sloan found a significant link between the use of Facebook and increases in anxiety and depression among college students. Now, a new study shows how therapy can be effective in addressing this issue.

In 2022 it was estimated that 4.59 billion people globally used at least one form of social media which has significantly changed how people communicate, according to the University London College’s press statement. Problematic social media use refers to a person’s preoccupation with social media in a way that important tasks and responsibilities are neglected. 

Previous studies have linked this to poor mental mental well-being, including depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. The new study, by researchers from UCL, suggests techniques such as limiting social media use along with therapy-based approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help tackle this problem.

Also read: How limiting social media use reduces anxiety and loneliness

The researchers analysed 23 studies, involving participants from across the globe, between 2004 and 2022. They found that in more than a third of studies (39%), social media use interventions improved mental well-being, according to UCL’s press statement. The researchers specifically observed it to be effective for depression (low mood), with 70% of studies showing significant improvement following the intervention.

According to lead author, Ruth Plackett, explained that reducing time spent on social media is unlikely to benefit mental wellbeing on its own. "Instead, taking a more therapy-based approach and reflecting on how and why we are interacting with social media and managing those behaviours could help improve mental health,” Plackett added in the statement.

Previously a 2017 Canadian study found that students who use social media for more than two hours every day are more likely to rate their mental health as fair or poor compared to occasional users, according to Medical News Daily. A 2019 study also linked social media use to disrupted and delayed sleep, which significantly impacts people’s well-being.

As the new study suggests, addressing problematic social media use requires a therapy-based approach to ensure that people also get the right help for their mental health issues.

Also read: How beige flags, a social media trend, can start new conversations

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