Your Whatsapp group chat is good for your mental health

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
WhatsApp who spent more time on the app reported a high quality of relationships with their friends and family. [Photo: Getty]

We might all occasionally moan about the tyranny of the group chat, but a new study has found being in a WhatsApp group conversation could have a positive effect on your psychological wellbeing.

Amid concerns over the effects of screen time on a user’s attention span and anxiety levels, this is a refreshingly positive take.

The study, titled ‘Psychosocial Outcomes Associated with Engagement with Online Chat Systems’, looked at the relationship between usage of text-based messaging apps with a group chat function (the most popular being WhatsApp) and our emotional wellbeing.

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Researchers looked at a sample size of 200 users, consisting of 158 women and 42 men, with an average age of 24.

Participants on average reported spending 55 minutes a day on the app.

Those users who spent more time on the app reported a high quality of relationships with their friends and family.

"There's lots of debate about whether spending time on social media is bad for our well-being but we've found it might not be as bad as we think,” said study co-author Dr Linda Kaye, a senior lecturer in Psychology from the University of York.

“The more time people spent on WhatsApp, the more this related to them feeling close to their friends and family and they perceived these relationships to be good quality.”

What’s more, those who felt they had a strong group identity with their WhatsApp chats had greater self esteem and social competence.

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“The more closely bonded these friendships were and the more people felt affiliated with their WhatsApp groups, the more this was related positively to their self-esteem and social competence,” said Kaye.

"It gives rise to the notion that social technology such as WhatsApp may stimulate existing relationships and opportunities for communication, thereby enhancing aspects of the users' positive well-being," she added.

So, the next time you’re complaining about the incessant ping of message notifications coming through to your phone, then just remember: it’s for your own good.