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Four in ten Americans would rather give up a pet than social media

New research investigates the link between poor mental health and social media

The Facebook app as seen on a smartphone in somebody's pocket

Despite knowing that social media platforms contribute to poor mental health, an alarming percentage of Americans would not give up their Facebook or Twitter accounts, a new study found.

A survey of social media users by the Reboot Foundation found that 70% said they would not give up their accounts for less than $10,000. Another 40% said they would choose to keep their social media accounts over their cars, TVs, and even their pets.

The research also looked at social media users’ mental health by asking users if they thought their social media use intensified any of the following feelings or conditions: anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, loneliness, or low self-esteem. 

Over 50% of respondents said social media at least "somewhat" intensified those feelings for each of these conditions. At least 20% of those surveyed said social media use led to “very” or “extremely” intense feelings.

Despite people knowing social media has a detrimental impact on mental health, only about a third said they take steps to limit their social media use.

When asked how much money they would need to permanently cut all their social media accounts, over 70% said it would take $10,000 or more — 20% percent said it would take at least $1 million.

Most survey respondents felt they could use social media without seriously harming their mental health, but they acknowledged its negative impacts.

"These survey results clearly show the deep and somewhat disturbing attachments users have to their social media accounts," said Helen Lee Bouygues, Reboot's founder and president. "Even though users recognize the deleterious effects social media has on their mental health, they're unwilling–or unable–to limit their use of these platforms. It's not unlike a smoker and their cigarettes."

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