Scientific Studies: Downsides of Social Media (will surprise no one)

We all know the benefits of social media — keeping in touch with friends and “friends”, endless hours of things-to-scroll, and constant updates on news and more.  But what about the downsides? lists some of them in today’s article, titled “Social Media… drastically altering your brain, science explains.”  Some highlights: 

  • 5-10% of people have a psychological addiction that leaves them incapable of controlling how much time they spend on social mediaFacebook is more addicting than cigarettes, says study
  • Phantom Vibration Syndrome is a real phenomenon, leaving people believing their phone is vibrating when it’s not (with 89% of test subjects reporting its occurrence at least once every two weeks). One hypothesis is that technology is rewriting our nervous systems, with humans interpreting physical itches as a buzz
  • Social Media can make it more difficult for people commit things to memory, rendering multi-screen multi-tasking a myth
  • Even worse, if you’re reading this and want to phase out social media you may find it hard to do.  A University of Chicago study says that Facebook may even be more addicting than cigarettes, with the average user engaging with social 75+ minutes a day.  

So what does that mean for the future of social?  Considerations include:

  • Marketing Perspective: How can brands tap into this passion given the amount of time consumers spend on these platforms (while avoiding negative public relations that may come from over consumption)? 
  • Macro Econ: What will this mean for the U.S. Economy when we consider future generations of workers for whom social media is omnipresent part of life (and who may very well addicted)?
  • Interpersonal: How will these changes influence people’s overall health and well being in an always-on world? 

Check out these two linked articles which delve into this topic more extensively:

-Meghan Barquinero, MBA ’14


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