Statistically, people worldwide spend 1.77 hours a day on social media. Young people aged 16 to 24 spend 2.68 hours a day surfing social networks. It represents almost 1,000 hours per year!
The data, although a bit surprising, come from a major pollster called GlobalWebIndex. The company regularly conducts a large-scale international survey on social networks, polling more than 50,000 people aged 16 to 64.
Despite its name (“tele” – “far,” and “phone” – “sound”), our telephone only emits sounds 15% to 20% of the time we use it. That means that the remaining 80% is spent on surfing the Internet.
80% of users consult their cell phones for no less than 15 minutes after waking up! All of this goes to shows how dependent we have grown on these tools and the “information” they contain.
More Reasonable Canadians?
Do Canadians spend a lot of time on social media? It may surprise you, but in Canada, people spend half of their time on social networks. For example, Argentines, Brazilians, Indonesians, Mexicans, Filipinos, South Africans, Thais, and Turks easily “beat” them.
The frequency with which Canadians surf social media is roughly equivalent to that of France, Germany, and the United States (countries whose economic development is comparable to that of ours). It is funny, and I would rather believe that the opposite is the case. It is also possible that in some countries, cell phones are used more often than regular ones.
Are We Addicted?
We often talk about “dependence” on social networks. But can we really become “addicted” to it, as we can be, for example, to drugs or gambling?
In fact, yes, and this is not surprising since all these addictions work in much the same way. When you’re addicted, certain regions of your brain (also referred to as centers of pleasure) – are stimulated to secrete dopamine. That is how we get our daily dose of happiness, so to say. After some time, we get used to it and want to get more. The drugs work the same way, but their effect is more pronounced and long-lasting.
It seems that tweets, Facebook messages, and all those free college essays we look for have the capacity for making us secrete dopamine. And this, in turn, means we can easily be subject to dependence, the importance of which should not be underestimated.
My Own Addiction
Those who know me also know that for a few years now, I have been using social networks quite heavily. Of course, for me, Facebook is a professional means of communication. And still…
I am also on Twitter, which I find less effective in distributing information and reaching people. So I use it a lot less.
The first step is always to accept reality, so I must admit that I am a little dependent on social networks.
I try to control myself by staying away from it. I have even invented 80-character passwords and used software like SelfControl to limit the time I spend on social networks.
When I’m on vacation, I try to completely detach myself from social networks (and even from my emails).
A Hard-to-Shake Addiction
Social networks also have an important competitive advantage — they make it possible for everyone to have a small dose of dopamine at any time of the day or night!
Imagine being an ex-smoker who always carries a pack of cigarettes in his pocket or an ex-alcoholic who always has a bottle of alcohol with him. You will be constantly tempted to slip back into your addiction and have a hard time resisting it.
In short, the constant presence of smartphones in our lives makes “abstinence” more difficult.
But is this kind of addiction still a problem? Ask teenagers, and they may not even understand what you are talking about.
Addiction to social media seems to pose few serious risks. Excluding, of course, an increased risk of having a road accident.
In general, a well-managed addiction does not cause too many problems. It is only when a cyber addiction prevents a person from living the life they normally do that we can talk about as a problem.
For example, people (I know quite a few of them) who compulsively consult their cellphones have a small addiction problem, which is starting to encroach on their living space.
Personally, I find it unbearable having to constantly consult your device during face-to-face meetings. And those who agree to be constantly “alerted” by their emails, texts, Facebook messages, and others should think twice about this excessive invasion in their daily life.
Too much dependence on smartphones can have negative effects on one’s mental health, too. It is claimed that anxiety and depression are associated with the abuse of social networks. However, recent studies call this statement into a question.
We also know that addiction to social networks – like any addiction – can affect a person’s everyday life.
What about our morale in general? Can we improve it by staying away from social networks from time to time? It seems so. There have been some interesting studies lately about shaking a Facebook addiction.
For example, one group of die-hard Facebook fans were asked to stop using social media for a week. At the same time, the other group was allowed to continue surfing it. Those who had stopped felt better by the end of the week — they were less worried and more enthusiastic.
I wouldn’t be surprised if you could improve your health by simply staying away from social networks from time to time. In any case, this is the effect I feel when I cut myself off from social media for some time.
Cure Your Addiction
In particularly severe cases, one should seek professional help, especially if their addiction is ruining their lives. There are specialized centers that treat (and cure) social media addiction, in case you didn’t know.
Whenever you have an urge to check out your Facebook feed, think about this new reality, which transforms your relationship with the world.
To sum up, social networks will not disappear from our lives overnight. In the meantime, why don’t you just enjoy your vacation without a smartphone? Because I will.