Taking a mere five-day break from Facebook will lower your physiological stress levels, researchers claim

Posted on May 2, 2018

38 active Facebook users (they averaged 2.8 hours daily use) were invited to the lab where they provided a saliva cortisol sample and completed psychological questionnaires tapping their Facebook use, life-satisfaction, stress, mood and loneliness. Cortisol is described as a stress hormone and is used as an indicator of stress levels.

They then wrote about what they thought the ensuing days would be like and they gave another saliva sample. Finally, all participants returned to the lab five days later, to repeat the questionnaires, report their social movements during the intervening Sunday, and provide one further saliva cortisol sample.

The results matched these expectations in that the No-Facebook group reported lower life satisfaction at the end of the study than those in the Facebook-as-normal condition. This was despite the fact they reported an average of more than two hours extra face-to-face socialising on the Sunday during the study period compared to the Facebook-as-normal group. Furthermore, despite a reduction in cortisol levels, the No-Facebook group didn’t actually report a decrease in their stress levels on the questionnaires.

The researchers interpreted their results as showing that “taking short breaks from Facebook could be beneficial to one’s health, as any prolonged stress could contribute to mental and physical disorders.” This conclusion is limited by how cortisol fluctuates a lot and thus proves to be difficult to interpret the meaning of this change, especially based on so few measures. Life-satisfaction is also difficult to interpret and the resulting stress level would be different if the break was imposed or by choice.


Category(s):Mental Health in Asia

Source material from Research Digest


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