Millennials and Generation-X members have essentially grown up with a device in their hands. It has almost become an extension of most people born after 1980. The emergence of smartphones and tablets has catapulted the social media industry, allowing us to instantaneously communicate with people thousands of miles away.
A survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public health in 2017 believes that social media has had a destructive and direct effect on our wellbeing. The study questioned Britons aged between 14-24 about their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter usage. The results are jarring.
On average, many subjects feel that social media gives them an opportunity for self-expression and a platform for community-building. On the contrary, many felt the networks amplify anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, exposure to bullying, and worries about their body image. Social media even introduced the pervasive apprehension known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). FOMO is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.” Academic studies suggest these problems are more commonly found among frequent social media users. Some sites inflame these feelings more than others.
Facebook’s founding president, Sean Parker, has even admitted the site operates by “exploring a vulnerability in human psychology.” An experiment conducted by five neuroscientists in 2014 concluded that Facebook triggers the same impulsive part of the brain as gambling and substance abuse.
The good news is that further studies have found it’s easier to cut down on screen time than we realize. One neuroscientific study focused on Facebook showed that the subjects’ cognitive ability to inhibit their impulsive behavior was less impaired than for drug or gambling addicts. Data from activity-tracking app Moment shows that it is possible for those who use social-media lightly to be content. Weekly it will ask its users how they feel about the amount of time they have spent on various social media platforms. Nearly 63% of Instagram users report being miserable, a higher share than for any other social network. Instagram users spend an average of nearly an hour per day on the app. The 37% who claim to be happy are said to only spend half as much time on the photo-sharing platform.
It can be argued that the media sites that demand more human interaction have the happiest users. For Facetime, a video conference app on Apple products, 91% of users say they are happy. Meanwhile, 84% of people, who say they still use their phone to make actual phone calls, are much happier. After reviewing these studies, It’s evident that the common denominator for happiness is actual human interaction.