Neuroscientist reveals perfect amount of time to spend on social media for your mental health

Over several weeks, the participants felt less loneliness, depression and anxiety.

neuroscience, social media, mental health

Anyone can use this checklist.

There are pretty clear cut guidelines on how much screen time kids should have, but for adults…not so much. And perhaps it’s this lack of clarity that leaves people to go on full blown digital detoxes or get off social media entirely.

And while there is certainly a case to be made for that decision, for many of us, that isn’t quite feasible—especially in certain lines of work.

Luckily, according to neuroscientist Rachelle Summers, there is a way we can still be on social media, without being subjected to its negative side effects.

In a video posted to her TikTok and Instagram, Summers first cited a study which found that limiting social media use to 30 minutes per day lead to a "significant improvement in well-being” among participants.

Over several weeks, the participants felt less loneliness, depression, anxiety and FOMO—common symptoms of social media overuse.

Of course, 30 minutes might seem like an extremely short amount of time to be on social media (never mind if you’re actually posting something). In fact, according to one polling website, average person spends a little over 2 hours each day on social media, which is also drastically low in comparison to some of the comments to Summer’s video.

“Yikes. I’ve been doing 30 minutes every half an hour,” one person wrote.

Another added, “I’m on Instagram around 25 hours a week. Guess that’s a critical amount.”

Summers did however add that the study only measured the effects of limiting social media to 30 minutes, and noted that similar benefits could be found at a little more usage time.

So then, what if we want to spend more than a measly 30 minutes and still see benefits? Summers proposes going through this checklist of questions:

-Establish your baseline. How much time are you currently spending on social media?

-Are you sleeping poorly?

-How’s your attention span?Are you finding it difficult to concentrate on a task?

-How is your Mood? Are you experiencing any anxiety or depression?

-Are you noticing physical discomfort like eye strain or headaches?

-What does your engagement look like? Are you mostly looking at content that puts you in a negative headspace?

-Have you stopped or reduced how much time you’re investing in offline relationships and/or hobbies?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, Summers suggests going back to your original baseline and reducing social media consumption by 20% . Then check again in two weeks and continue reducing by 20% until you’ve only got one yes. Or, better yet, zero.

I don't know about you, but I answered yes to nearly all of these…along with tons of viewers.

“Brain fog is so frustrating and uncomfortable,” one person wrote.

“I spend a lot of time on subreddits that are laden with rage bait,” admitted another.

We all know we need to limit our social media use. But we don’t necessarily have a way of measuring how much we need to cut back. And while a weeklong vacation to a spot with zero internet service might be ideal, some real world, everyday tools can be just as helpful. And perhaps even more sustainable.

And while you’re using that daily allowance of social media, be sure to follow Summers on TikTok and Instagram for more cool tips.

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