There’s been a lot of ink spilt on how Instagram negatively impacts the emotional well-being of teenagers (Facebook has known about its negative effects on teen girls for years). So it might be tempting to paint all social media channels with that same it’s-bad-for-you brush.
But virtual bulletin board Pinterest may be a bright spot, emotionally speaking, on the social landscape. The company recently released a study featuring research from UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center that claims daily interaction with content on Pinterest helped Gen-Z college students avoid stress and feelings of burnout. The study analyzed a group of college students that used Pinterest for 10 minutes a day versus another group that solved an online jigsaw puzzle for 10 minutes a day, over a period of two weeks.
For the students who perused Pinterest, “we found that just 10 minutes a day seeking out inspiration buffered against the rising burnout, stress, and social disconnectedness we could see in their vagal tone data,” the report reveals. “This had consequences for emotional wellbeing, physical health, and social connectedness.” Browsing the app also “mitigated the consequences of physical stress on people’s daily positive emotion, preserving their capacity for feeling good…We also found that higher levels of inspiration make it easier to relax. This higher level of relaxation was uniquely ‘unlocked’ by seeking inspiration on Pinterest and was not true of the control condition.”
Some may balk at the small scope of the study (and why puzzles as the alternate activity?), but anecdotally speaking, Pinterest has always been a happier place than Facebook and Instagram, mainly because it’s devoid of news and functions expressly to find things its users like and connect with.
“Over the last decade, we’ve made deliberate choices to engineer a more positive place online,” the study reads. “For example, our algorithm prioritizes explicit signals from people who use Pinterest: more conscious, active engagements, like ‘saving’ an idea. We use those active signals to determine what you see first on Pinterest.” Happy pinning! —Ruby Baybei