Read the full article at the Huffington Post.
Social media is a massive part of modern life. For instance, the average user spends a combined 50 minutes on Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger in a typical day, according to company data from 2016. That’s significantly more than the 17 minutes the average American adult spends exercising daily, per 2012 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And as many of us have been warned, there’s a high chance this isn’t good for our psyches. Young adults who use social media more than two hours per day are 2.7 times more likely to be depressed, according to a 2016 study from the University of Pittsburgh.
While existing depression could be causing this social media use, research suggests the platforms themselves ― especially Instagram ― play a significant role: This year, a survey of 1,500 young people in the U.K. ranked Instagram as the worst social media platform for mental health, with participants citing increases in anxiety, depression and body image issues while using the app. Many experts blame social comparison, the effect by which social media users determine their own worth based on how they stack up against other ― oftentimes apparently skinnier, richer or more fun-loving ― people on their Instagram feeds.
Many users are familiar with the feeling of scrolling through an Instagram feed in order to avoid something, whether it be getting out of a cozy bed in the morning or working up the nerve to respond to a confrontational text message. Sometimes, guilt sets in when we realize just how long we’ve spent “killing time” on the app.
To reduce this feeling ― and to make your browsing experience more fulfilling overall ― it’s helpful to analyze precisely why you look at Instagram, according to Oscar Ybarra, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan who co-authored the study with Verduyn.
His “five whys” process involves asking yourself why you’re using Instagram (maybe it’s “because I’m bored waiting in line at the grocery,” for example), then asking into that answer again (“Why am I bored waiting in line? Because I’m not talking to the people around me.”) and again (“Why aren’t I talking to the people around me? Because I’m nervous to initiate conversation.”) until you’ve done it five times. The results could be revealing (“Next time, I’ll be bold and say hello to someone in line at the grocery.”).
“People should ask themselves why they are using [Instagram],” Ybarra told HuffPost. “Then, once they have their answer to the first why, they should interrogate this answer by asking ‘why’ again, and continue this process. Many times we log on to these sites mindlessly for distraction or to fill time, but we never confront ourselves and ask why we’re doing it.”