There’s a big debate going on regarding this issue. I believe that we can live better lives using less social media, in particular the entertainment part of it. Over the last 10 years since the emergence of social media there have been a considerable number of studies completed looking at the impact of social media on people’s lives

A study published by the European Journal of Educational Research in 2018 already states that the increased use rate of technological devices has resulted in behavioural addiction and strengthened technology dependency, being the most common social media tools Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Google+, Wikipedia, LinkedIn and Reddit.

Some studies are also suggesting that nowadays people spend 5 hours or more on a daily average watching social media platforms, whether is playing, gambling or socially interacting with other people. It looks to me that some people wouldn’t survive one day without checking their Facebook status!

In addition, a study focused on addiction to social media by Shakya and Christakis (Reference Shakya and Christakis 2017) found that the more time young people spent on social media, particularly Facebook, the unhappier they were. Another study found that the more time adolescents spent on social media, the more depressed they became (Raudsepp & Kais, Reference Raudsepp and Kais 2019). Kross et al. (Reference Kross, Verduyn, Demiralp, Park, Lee and Lin 2013) found that the longer people remained on Facebook, the more negative a mood they later reported.

Social media companies are designing their platforms in a way that create addiction by including elements such as intermittent variable rewards (Cambridge University Press, 6/10/20). They design features that takes advantage of our desires for social validation, social reciprocity and stopping cues.  They do this by introducing infinite scrolls removing the opportunity for users to for example to reflect on whether they want to stop using the platform. Crucially, the more time that users spend on social media platforms, the more data social media companies have about what works and what does not, which in turn allows them to further refine their platforms.

The algorithms embedded in social media also adjust the content they feed each particular user so that each user will remain engaged with the platform for ever longer periods of time (Lanier, Reference Lanier 2018; Rader & Gray, Reference Rader and Gray 2015).

For some time now and once again (remember tobacco and alcohol companies) the social media industry has treated humans as mere products, disregarding completely our wellbeing and using us to make huge amount of profits but at a terrible cost for users.

However, the choice is ours. Just simply ‘turn it off’ or be very conscious, sensible, and vigilant about how much time spent and what platforms you’re using. Moderation is key, designing clear strategies to control yourself.

I’m convinced that humans aren’t fully ready yet to manage or navigate on a positive way through all these new technologies both physically or emotionally. Because of the way they’re used and how they operate, they do increase stress and anxiety to dangerous levels. We should be given lectures and being taught on how to use them. Everyone, from companies to users, should be held accountable in case of wrongdoings. It’s always easy to blame the ‘big fish’, nevertheless users must be responsible and have a good dose of scepticism when it comes to new technologies.