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?  

Salon.com 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: 

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/09/social_media_and_the_internet_are_drastically_altering_your_brain_science_explains/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8ewMAU79Y4

-Meghan Barquinero, MBA ’14

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