You’ll feel more self-assured
When we post on social media, we tend to share only the happy, exciting parts of our lives that we want others to see. This may seem harmless, but when we’re seeing only people at their best, it’s easy to feel like we’re falling behind by comparison. This tendency to negatively compare ourselves to those who we believe are superior is what psychologists call upward social comparison. “Let’s say you’re struggling to have a baby,” says Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the University of Houston. “Normally, people wouldn’t come up to you and say, ‘Well look at how amazing my baby is!’ or something like that. Whereas, it kind of feels like that on social media, because we’re posting to such a large audience.” A study by Steers and her colleagues found that people who used Facebook more frequently experienced higher levels of this social comparison, which was linked to more frequent symptoms of depression among the users. Quitting Facebook and other online accounts can help block much of this social comparison, and you’ll end up feeling much happier and more confident.
You’ll get more sleep
You take a quick minute to check one notification on Facebook before bed when suddenly you realize you’ve been browsing, liking, and commenting long past your bedtime. Sound familiar? Dr. Greenfield says this has become a common habit for many people at night, often spending one to two hours scrolling through social media in bed. “Think about it: If you’re doing that every day, that’s 15 hours a week you spend just doing social media,” Dr. Greenfield says. “That’s not like going out to dinner with a friend, that’s just looking at somebody play with their new hamster and then commenting on it.” When you quit social media, you free yourself of this extra priority—and buy yourself the powerful health boost of a good night’s rest. If you need a cool-down activity in the p.m., skip the screens and try something more relaxing and less time-consuming, like reading a book or planning tomorrow’s agenda.
You’ll strengthen your face-to-face relationships
Sure, social media can be an excellent way to stay in touch with old friends or family from out of town, but cutting ties with the Internet can work wonders for your tangible friendships. Face-to-face interpersonal relationships are generally much stronger than those conducted solely online, and taking a breather from your social media accounts forces you to focus on these real-world interactions. “Pulling back on social media and spending more time on face-to-face interactions really helps your relationships, and relationships are really one of the most important factors in wellbeing and mental health,” Dr. Cantor says. Find out the social media mistakes that can damage your relationships.
You’re less likely to get bored
Who hasn’t pulled out their phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, thinking a check of your phone could help alleviate the tedium? But researchers at Kent State who studied 41 college students found the opposite effect. “Amazingly, boredom increased over the 30-minute bout of social media use,” says Andrew Lepp, an associate professor at Kent State University who specializes in the psychology of social media usage. If you’re not mindlessly scrolling through your feeds, you might choose a more mentally engaging activity to banish your boredom, like working on a crossword or reading a book.