Are You Getting Too Social Online?
By: Emma Kavanagh
Can’t stop looking at Facebook updates to learn the latest from friends, family, celebrities and businesses? Can you hammer out 140-character messages in your sleep? Enjoy daydreaming about your hobbies while perusing pictures on Pinterest? Is keeping up with what’s happening with friends via Google+ your new favorite pastime?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might just be getting a little too social online.
Social media is fantastic for helping keep people up with what’s happening around town, the nation and even the world. Sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter allow family and friends to connect across the miles and they can make people immediately aware of breaking news that might matter to them. They also provide entertainment, camaraderie and help connect people with similar interests, among other perks.
For all the good that can be found on social media, however, there are some potential downsides to being so plugged in a smartphone never stops buzzing with popup notifications. Here are some indications that you might be spending too much time socializing online:
- Your day revolves around finding opportunities to check out social media sites: If you find yourself constantly checking into social media sites to see what’s happening whether you’re at home, on the road, at work, out with friends, you could be overdoing.
- Social media surfing gets in the way of things you should be doing: Unless your job involves social media management, you probably don’t need to stay logged into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or other similar sites 24/7. If your online activities are getting in the way of work, relationships and other obligations, it’s probably time to scale it back a bit.
- You use social media as a sole form of connection: If social media interactions are your primary mode for communicating with others, you could be socializing too much online and not enough with people in the real world. While there are times this is a huge bonus – if you’re sick, for example – social media ties shouldn’t prevent you from getting out and living.
While there’s no set limit on how much time a person should spend on social media, there are some potential problems that can arise for those who allow their lives to revolve around updates, instant messages and Tweets. They include:
- Anxiety and depression: Overuse of social media to the point of addiction has become a real problem for some. According to ABC News, experts say overuse of social media can lead to anxiety and depression in some. This is especially so for those who use these tools to see how they and their lives measure up against others.
- “iDisorder” issues: According to California State University Professor Dominquez Hills, overuse of social media and the technology that drives it can lead to what he has coined “iDisorder.” This involves such symptoms as obsessive-compulsive disorder, narcissism, hypochondria and so on.
- Problems with interpersonal communication: When people spend most of their time online, communicating via text messages, instant messages and social media updates, they may lose sight of interpersonal skills that help sustain relationships in the world by the Internet. Checking social media during professional meetings, dinner engagements, family outings and so on can all be signs that too much time is being invested online.
Tips For Curtailing Social Media Overload
Social media can be a valuable tool for helping people connect, unwind and stay informed. There are ways to balance use, however. Here are some tips to help limit time spent socializing online into a more manageable range:
- Set specific times to check social media accounts and stick to them.
- Limit popup notifications on smartphones and other portable devices. Finding out what your second cousin twice removed had for dinner, for example, doesn’t need to be an instant popup that you need to read about right now. A message from your local news station about impending hazardous weather, however, should be able to reach you just about any time and anywhere.
- Limit social media use during working hours to breaks only unless being on social media sites is a part of your job.
- Ban texting, social media use and other online activities during personal engagements with friends and family.
Social media shouldn’t replace other forms of being social. While it can add to relationships, if it’s taking away from them, it’s probably time to get use in check.
- Anxiety.org: Social Media Rejection Isn’t All Bad
- BBB (Better Business Bureau): Are You a Social Media Addict?
- South University: Does Social Media Addiction Really Exist?
- University of Maryland: Students Addicted to Social Media – UM Study
- The Globe and Mail: Twitter as addictive as cigarettes, study says
- Debate.org: Can social media be addictive?