Additionally, since the sample size was so small, the team was not able to conduct an analysis of the impact of gender.
So, the teams’ most recent experiment set out to expand on the pilot study– including 220 undergraduate students between the ages of 17 and 25. Among this group, 76% of the students identified as female; meanwhile, 23% identified as male, and 1% identified as other.
In other for students to qualify for the study, they had to be regular users of social media– spending a minimum of two hours online per day on their smartphones. Additionally, the students also had to show symptoms of anxiety or depression.
During the first week of the study, the participants were asked to continue using social media as usual.
This typical social media usage was measured via a screen time tracking program, which the students screenshotted and provided at the end of every day.
At the beginning of the experiment, the students also rated a series of statements regarding both weight and overall appearance using a 5-point scale– with 1 meaning “never” and 5 meaning “always.”
Then, following the first week, 50% of the participants were told to cut their social media use down to a maximum of 60 minutes per day.
And over the next three weeks, the students who were asked to restrict their social media use reduced their screen time by about 50%– averaging about 78 minutes per day of social media consumption. The control group, on the other hand, averaged 188 minutes per day.
Finally, at the end of the study, the students were instructed to take a similar questionnaire– rating statements about overall appearance and weight.
This questionnaire revealed that the students who had reduced their social media consumption also showed a significant improvement in regard to their overall appearance and body weight perception following an intervention period of just weeks.
Conversely, the control group showed no significant changes, and gender was not found to impact the effects.