This is an excerpt from The Answer is in the Conversation, dedicated to my dear friend on the west side.
Humans are social beings that have an emotional need to interact with one another. As technology evolves, the number of digital tools continues to expand, along with the amount of time we dedicate to using them. Articles on the dangers of overuse abound, warning us that increased screen time may cause a decrease in our cognitive functions. And it has been well documented that one particular tool, social media, is designed to be addictive.
Recently, a study on social media use was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by psychologist Melissa Hunt and her research team. A total of 143 undergraduate student volunteers were divided into two groups to examine the potential causal role that social media plays in an individual’s well-being. The control group practiced their typical social media behavior, while the experimental group limited their Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram use to ten minutes per platform per day. The findings “strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being” (Hunt, Marx, Lipson, & Young, 2018)
In a recent interview about the study, Hunt discussed the findings, which were published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology.
“Here’s the bottom line. Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.” (Berger, 2018).
When Hunt was designing the study, she did not consider halting the experimental group’s use of social media altogether. “Hunt stresses that the findings do not suggest that 18- to 22-year-olds should stop using social media altogether. In fact, she built the study as she did to stay away from what she considers an unrealistic goal” (Berger, 2018).
For many people, it would be hard to imagine their lives without social media. Millennials and post-Millennials (or Gen Z), in particular, view social media apps as a tool that connects them with friends, provides a space to share their views, and facilitates the process of finding employment. These are just a few of the positive effects of using social media in a responsible fashion.
“There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support either assessment [arguments for and against social media]; however, research into the effects of social media is still in its infancy, so scientific data are relatively scarce. What is clear is that the internet, social media, and the digital devices on which they operate are here to stay. Therefore, it is incumbent on each of us to understand, and help others to understand, how to use them productively and responsibly” (The Good, Bad, and In-between of Social Media, n.d.).
Make a conscious effort to exercise your intellectual independence by constructively limiting, not eliminating, the use of social media applications. Talk with your kids about what it means to be a responsible social media participant. Gently monitor their usage and keep the conversation going. In this way, you can ensure that social media will be an enhancement to online life, increase social capital, and provide a gateway to connecting “in real life” (IRL).
until nxt time …
Berger, M. (2018, November 9). Social media use increases depression and loneliness. Retrieved from https://penntoday.upenn.edu/news/social-media-use-increases-depression-and-loneliness
Hunt, M. G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., & Young, J. (2018). No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37(10), 751–768. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751
The Good, Bad, and In-between of Social Media (n.d.). Retrieved from https://carrierclinic.org/resources/good-bad-in-between-of-social-media/