College Students Who Leave Facebook for a Week Report Being Less Depressed
“researchers found that they didn’t substitute traditional media for the news they’d been getting on Facebook”
This isn’t surprising at all. One other upside of this is that students who stay off social media are probably going to concentrate more on their studies.
The Nieman Lab reports:
College students who go off Facebook for a week consume less news and report being less depressed
Threatening to leave Facebook, or talking about how you should spend less time on it, is common. Actually leaving is less common (though it is happening). If you do leave, it might be good for you…and you also might miss it: A study of 1,769 U.S. undergrads found that those who got off Facebook for a week consumed less news, experienced greater wellbeing…and, uh, valued Facebook 20 percent more highly, in monetary terms, than they had before they took their break.
The paper is “The economic effects of Facebook,” published this week online in the journal Experimental Economics by Roberto Mosquera of Ecuador’s Universidad de las Americas and Mofioluwasademi Odunowo, Trent McNamara, Xiongfei Guo, and Ragan Petrie of Texas A&M University. In spring 2017, they surveyed A&M undergrads on how what they think a week of Facebook use is worth. They then randomly assigned them into two groups — one that went off Facebook for a week and one whose Facebook use wasn’t restricted. After that, they asked them to place a monetary value on Facebook again.
Overall, the effects our study finds on news awareness, news consumption, feelings of depression, and daily activities show that Facebook has significant effects on important aspects of life not directly related to building and supporting social networks.
When half the participants took a Facebook break, the researchers found that they didn’t substitute traditional media for the news they’d been getting on Facebook: “On average, participants in the Facebook restriction group significantly decrease their consumption of news by 0.64 standard deviations with respect to the baseline (p value < 0.05), and this effect is consistent across all news types” — weather, sports, politics, and so on. This is some evidence that when people stop getting news from Facebook, they don’t necessarily start getting it somewhere else; traditional news consumption didn’t fill the void created by limiting Facebook news consumption.
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The news finding is completely unsurprising since facebook is not an original news source.
A percentage of those in the facebook abstinence group will travel to the sites they used to route through facebook. The remaining percentage will just disconnect altogether for that week and make it an “experience.
I imagine news consumption would tick back up if they stayed off longer than a week.