Quitting Facebook Can Make You Happier

Let me first admit that I am indeed a hypocrite. I have no plans of deleting my Facebook account. I mean, c’mon, it’s Facebook.

But if I were a little wiser, I might act differently. According to a new study from University of Copenhagen, signing off of Facebook and not signing back on might be good for your mental health.

In the experiment, 1,095 participants were asked to either keep using Facebook as usual or to (gasp) quit Facebook for a week. They were then asked about their mood and well-being to see how they were doing.

And it turned out the ones who quit Facebook were doing pretty well. In fact, they reported feeling more satisfied with their lives and having more positive moods overall.

Some users were more likely to benefit from the Facebook hiatus than others. Specifically, the following three groups gained the most from signing off social media:

  • Heavy Facebook users
  • Passive Facebook users
  • Facebook users with more envy toward other users

Of course, it makes intuitive sense that if looking through your friends’ vacation photos sparks profound feelings of envy in you, being on Facebook probably isn’t going to make you happy. A 2015 study confirmed that while people generally feel more positive than negative emotions when browsing Facebook, envy does seem to be part of the experience.

Envy could also be part of the reason passive Facebook use is worse for mental health. Research done last year showed that passive Facebook use lowers people’s day-to-day moods over time and that it seems to do so by increasing people’s envy. The same was not true for active Facebook use, passive use of other social media, or face-to-face interactions.

Does all this mean the only path to happiness is to delete your Facebook account? Of course not.

But it does mean that social media usage can have both good and bad effects on our lives, moods and mental health. We can all benefit from reflecting on what social media adds to our lives – and making changes when the answer is “not much.”

Image: Flickr/AJC1 under CC BY-NC 2.0


  1. Liss on November 16, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    I deleted my facebook about 4 months ago. It was hard, but after 2 weeks, I could literally hear my self think. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made. If I need to keep in touch with my family since they all live in South America we use an app or we email one another and same for my closest friends. The drama some people create, the constant checking to see what’s up with the world; the rush of having to go to a place and do a check-in so that my friends could see that I also had a “life”, and the urge of always wanting to take pictures just to share on Facebook was way too much. I was having mental breakdowns, and a lot of times I found myself been envious and jealous of some of my friends. In my opinion, DELETE your account. Do a back up of your photos and videos, let your friends & family know, exchange number with those that you truly care for, and delete your account.

    • Neil Petersen on November 17, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for the inspiration, Liss! You make a good argument that this might be a case of “simpler is better.” Personally, I go extended periods of time without updating my account, which sort of serves the same purpose. 😛

    • Jamee on January 4, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Is there a way of backing up your photos without saving one at a time?

      • Neil Petersen on January 6, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        It seems like there would be. Maybe try Googling something like “how to back up facebook photos”?

      • Jerri Green on March 15, 2017 at 3:21 am

        I need to do that, too….but how? I went back into my acct. one day….after ‘missing’ it. I think there are some photos that are not in my ‘folders’ & I don’t want to lose them. I deactivated at first, then ‘deleted’, but FB gives you almost 2 wks. before your account is gone permanently, so I have time to get those pics. I do have to admit, I was stressing myself out, being on it too much….but I also met some really awesome people, ones I met from the time I started on FB and stayed friends throughout all that time. There are some that I want to stay in contact with…if not for living so far from each other, I know some of us would have actually met…now THOSE people I really do miss. Now THOSE are the ones I consider my ‘keepers’. I AM happy for the people who are happy on FB…but I had so much going on in my life & I really needed to get off. But you really can make some REAL friends…they’re not ALL fake ones. I wish you all the peace & happiness that you deserve….whether you merely deactivate or permanently delete your account. Only YOU know what’s best for yourself.

    • Jerri Green on February 7, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      I did the exact thing…..today….I felt a little bit of ‘anxiety’ about it, but KNEW it was finally the right thing to do. I was talked into getting on FB about 5 years ago. I now figure that if someone REALLY wants to contact me, they can…and if not, so be it. I feel good about all this! I was constantly checking FB, bored with the drama, uninterested in all the pics, the meals being posted, it just ‘became old’ reading about a person’s EVERY move and spending too much time on it just created more anxiety. I also feel better about not feeling that ‘need’ to grab my camera, take pics & upload them! It’s hard to explain, but by deleting my account….not just ‘deactivating’ it (as I have done in the past), I feel ‘free’. Yes, I enjoyed it (especially in the beginning, when it was ‘new’ to me), but as time went by, it became more of a bad habit. I did ‘meet’ some very nice people, whom I have never met in person, but called or texted me. The rest I already know personally…..I think if my children, or grandchildren used FB, I would still be there…but they don’t. I feel good when I’m constructive….FB was not constructive. I’m glad that some people are ‘happy’ with it, but I see mostly lonely people, ones who seem to need those ‘Likes’, need the validation that they are leading a wonderful life (when in truth, they are not)….and when you log on, it’s just the same old thing…I say ‘YAAA’ for us, I really think we will be happier without it. And…if anyone wants to activate an acct. again, they can. As for me, I’m happier without it….plus I’m doing more & moving around more, which I what I wanted and needed. Good luck to you all…just be happy!! <3 🙂

      • Neil Petersen on February 8, 2017 at 2:48 pm

        Congrats, enjoy the freedom! 🙂

  2. Irene Carnahan on November 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Six years ago, I stopped using and deleted my account in Facebook. It took a day to get through deleting what could be deleted. I know there is still an account there that has not been used in a long time. I never go near Facebook. I found myself somehow being able to see pictures of the house my husband and I built, and I sold 10 years ago. He died 20 years ago, too young, so I saw the changes being made to “my” house. I was mad and sad and scared and had moved far away, but I was drawn to the pages showing my house. I realized what I was doing, and that day started to try and extricate from Facebook.


    • Neil Petersen on November 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story, Irene. I’m really sorry to hear that. Congratulations on getting Facebook out of your life when you realized it was only making things worse!

    • Jerri Green on February 7, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you for Sharing, Irene. I have had some similar experiences and feel better after deleting my account. But now I’m a little worried….I didn’t delete any Posts, though…..should I have? I didn’t do a ‘back-up’ of all my pictures, either….but I went into my ‘PICTURES’ account & they all seem to still be there, thank God. I just wanted to FINALLY get FB out of my system…it was fun at first…but as time went on, I would log on because it was THERE….waste too much time & it wasn’t fun, anymore….I feel so much better now. I hope that you do too, Irene. Take care! 🙂