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Guest opinion: Studies show social media contributes to loneliness. Now what?

Deseret News - 12/9/2018

A new study due out in January 2019, has found a link between the use of social media and loneliness and depression. The study will be published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, by Melissa G. Hunt, Rachel Marx, Courtney Lipson and Jordyn Young. The study also found a decrease of anxiety and "Fear of missing out" by self-monitoring social media use.

Using 143 undergraduate students at the University of Pennsylvania, the study shows that limiting use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks as opposed to the control group.

Not only does limiting the use of social media improve upon loneliness, depression and anxiety, the limitations on use of associated tech devices also helps tremendously in this effort. In addition, there is evidence that social media lowers levels of well-being, the user often comparing his or her life experience to those exposed on social media. My daughter-in-law discovered after greatly limiting her social media experience, her well-being and thoughts about self-worth improved dramatically.

I recommend putting to the test limited use of social media and the tech devices associated with it to see if this study holds true in your life. Perhaps you could develop your top 10 tech limits and see how much more meaning your life might have. Here are my top 10 tech limits for your consideration:

1. Stop counting your social media friends and establish one more true friend.

2. Set up times of the day that you allow social media to enter your world — only visit your social media at those times.

3. Recognize that every time your phone dings does not constitute an emergency. Stop reacting like a Pavlov dog every time you hear a ding or feel a buzz. Better yet, turn off your notifications.

4. Do something meaningful today that does not need to be posted on social media; but rather shared personally with your family or a friend at the dinner table.

5. Stop politicizing your posts. Search for more common ground and be less divisive.

6. Decide to not respond to everything you see. Surprisingly, your response is not usually needed.

7. Be circumspect about acknowledging every poke. It’s OK to just be an observer sometimes.

8. Consider a social media fast — maybe it's once a week after an initial week-long fast.

9. Read more, tweet less. Text less, talk more.

10. Replace “thumb” communications with more service.

An unseen benefit of this limited tech challenge is the time it creates for other things. Have you been wondering when you would find more time for personal meditation? How about time to chart more critically the plans and dreams for your life? At our nonprofit organization, Launching Leaders, we have witnessed young adults across the world discover life-altering direction from simply applying the principle of getting up early — with a purpose to meditate and reflect. The time that is afforded facilitates impressions of the heart and spirit. Learning to trust these impressions and not be beholden to a constant “ding” from a device is empowering. This all leads to a more holistic and abundant life.

The virtues I love to celebrate in the rising generations (which are many), become even brighter as control is gained over the tech world. Your voices become more clearly you, and your ability to apply your generational gifts will be enlarged.

Go ahead, create your top 10 tech limits, and see what a positive difference it can make.

CREDIT: Steve Hitz, Deseret News

 
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