Giving up Facebook makes people less depressed, more productive and better with money, a study of thousands of young social media users has found.
Researchers compared the activities of more than 1,750 students who either went on a week's break from Facebook or remained on the social media platform.
In addition, the team found that quitting Facebook caused people to consume less news overall, but it also reduced their awareness of fake and non-mainstream news.
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Economist Roberto Mosquera of the Universidad de las Américas, Ecuador and colleagues studied 1,765 Facebook-using students at the Texas A&M university.
Researchers split the participants into two groups — one who took a week's break from Facebook, and the other who stayed on the platform.
They found that the students who went off Facebook were more productive, reported feeling less depressed, engaged in healthier activities and even made fewer impulse purchases and ate out less.
'Facebook has significant effects on important aspects of life not directly related to building and supporting social networks,' the researchers wrote.
The researchers also asked volunteers how much they would want to be paid in compensation for giving up Facebook for one week.
They found that, on average, participants regarded one week of Facebook as being worth $67 (£54) — a sizeable portion of a typical student's weekly budget — and increase this value by nearly 20 per cent after a week off of the platform.
This increasing valuation, the researchers suggest, is typical of an addictive relationship to the platform.
Alongside the health and financial effects, the researchers also found that the participants who took the social media break also consumed less news.
'The Facebook restriction reduces news consumption and participants do not substitute towards other news sources or social media platforms when being of Facebook for a short period of time,' the researchers wrote.
Professor Mosquera and his team also reported that the students who quit Facebook became less aware of politically skewed news sources — and effect seen to be stronger in men than with women.
'There is no effect on news awareness from mainstream sources,' the team added.
This finding adds support to previous studies that reported that Facebook can serve as an important conduit for non-mainstream and fake news sources.
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Experimental Economics.
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