What happens when social media replaces time spent in social activities with family and friends?

Posted on June 14th, 2018

Startling Stats:

60-80% of workers’ time on the internet has nothing to do with work. (BrandonGaille.com)

The average American spends 24% of their day cyberloafing (a new word has even been created to describe what we’re doing!) (BrandonGaille.com)

Global Active Internet Users now totals 3.175 Billion, that’s nearly half of the world’s population (7.357 Billion). (Pew Research)

Users between the ages of 15-19 spend three hours a day on their social media accounts while users between 20-29 spend two hours a day. (socialmediatoday.com)

Pew Research also states users age 65 and older are the fastest growing demographic of internet and mobile use, and go online daily.

The above are just a few of the statistics detailing how many of us spend our time. Engrossed by what appears on a monitor or phone screen, while life and meaningful connections pass us by. The internet and social media are good things, increasing access to information for millions of people, especially the impoverished or homebound. And most adults will not have a problem with social media, it’s just another form of entertainment for part of their day.

The problem forms for our young people, who are particularly vulnerable to social norms and peer pressure, and if all of their friends are on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and others, they must be too. Even with that, less than 10% of us may qualify as ‘addicted’ to social media, but most of us could say we have wasted our time on it or had a negative experience with it.

The positive side of Social Media:

  • increased connections to friends and interest groups
  • access to information, services, goods you otherwise may not know about
  • maintaining connections with friends and family you don’t see on a regular basis
  • important source of interaction for the elderly, disabled, or homebound

The negative side of social media:

  • increased feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, of not belonging
  • need to engage in competitive behaviors, and not in a healthy way (obtaining more ‘likes’ on a picture you post, or comparing yourself to others)
  • loss of productivity at work or school due to the amount of time spent on social media
  • makes it easy to overshare personal information without ever doing something to improve your present circumstances
  • the lack of face to face interaction makes it easy to bully others and be a target of bullying or harassment; we’ve found it is much easier to type words on a screen than say them to someone’s face and see the reaction our words cause

What to do:

  • log off or log out of those social media networks you don’t use frequently
  • limit time playing on social media, set a timer if you must and adhere to it
  • create phone free zones in your personal life: while eating, having conversations, spending time with others. When you’re with someone, be with them, not staring at your phone.
  • Recognize people portray their best selves on these sites, while on their best vacation, best day at school, best husband, child, etc. It is not an accurate or honest reflection of life. They have bad days, insecurities, jealousies, etc.
  • Recognize these sites are designed to hook you and keep you coming back. Real connections come from your relationship with God and your loved ones.
  • Research hobbies you may be interested in, then put down your phone and go do it. Replacing bad habits with positive ones is the key to changing your life.
  • Seek the help of an LFS therapist if you find yourself feeling more and more anxious or depressed.
  • Parents-don’t be hesitant to set these limits with your children. It is your job to help children set limits and manage themselves. Make them put down their phones and play a game with you. Know what your child is interested in, and have their passwords or be their friend or follower on their social media accounts.

The internet, smart phones, and social media are all here to stay. I won’t get into a debate if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I will however ask you to engage in your addiction one last time, and ‘LIKE’ our Facebook page before stepping away from your computer or phone.

https://www.facebook.com/LutheranFamilyService

Courtney Frerichs, LMHC

Director of Counseling Services