Video and story by Bella Efstratis; Photo by Zoe Glasgow
What are the effects that social media has on an individual’s brain? It’s a common question that is often widely discussed throughout the world, for there is a lot of controversy surrounding the topic. According to the book, i-Minds, “... most find this technology to be helpful; allowing friends to stay in-touch over great distances, finding information on a myriad of different subjects, discovering and purchasing rare collectible items, and even finding a future spouse. Technology can be a wonderful and almost magical tool to connect people, create fantasy worlds, entertain, and educate people, but it should not be a substitute for real human interactions."
Technology can be wonderful, but it should not be a substitute for real human interactions.
– Mari Swingle, author of iMinds
Although there is a lot of research that suggests that social media positively affects teens, there is also a large amount of research and statistics that shows that social media may be a large factor in anxiety and depression today.
For example, Maryellen Pachler, a nurse practitioner who specializes in the treatment of adolescent anxiety disorders, says the glamor and gleam of social media is also fueling a rise in teen anxiety. She provides the classic example of how teenagers will see their friends on social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, “where they look so happy, and they feel like they’re the only ones who are faking it." However that is the mindset of nearly every teen on social media today. "Several case studies involving formerly healthy, well-adjusted children and adolescents, after constant and prolonged exposure to technology, quickly became anxious and depressed," Pachler said.
I recently conducted a study at Judge where I had participants check how much time they spent on their phones. First I had them list the top three apps they use the most (For the record the top three were Snapchat, Instagram and Messages).
Next, I had the students tell me how much time they think they had spent on those apps in the past 24 hours; most said they spend about 45 minutes to an hour. Then I had them take out their phone and check which apps they use the most and how much time they have spent on them in the past 24 hours. Many participants were shocked by the hours and hours they have spent on social media in just one day. For example, one student was shocked to find that she had spent two hours just on Snapchat.
There are many ways to monitor your time spent on social media. For example there is a new app called PauseApp. It is designed with a color-coded system to alert users when their total time on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat exceeds research-based healthy limits. If usage becomes excessive, PauseApp briefly flashes yellow ‘caution’ or red ‘excessive’ warning lights. “It is not designed to restrict your access, the cautions are meant to encourage you to consider taking a break," PauseApp developer Daniel Floyd said.
I think PauseApp is a genius invention that is necessary in order to build better and healthier habits for social media usage in all walks of life. But being aware of how much time we actually spend on our phones is the first step to being aware of how much phone apps are taking over your life.