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Social Networking: A Time Trap?
K. Brown | whatissocialnetworking.com | January 2015
Does Facebook make you feel bad? Judging from recent research, spending too much time on social networks can make you feel terrible. It seems to depend on what you are doing on these websites.
Researchers asked study participants how they felt after spending 20 minutes on Facebook. It seems that the people didn't feel good because they weren't doing anything meaningful. Basically, they were wasting their time.
Other research suggests that social networks can have a negative effect on short-term memory. You might not realize how much time you spend on these websites and you might not remember what you did while you were there.
It's not just a waste of time. It's something of a “time trap.” You're trapped by all the requests, notifications, photos, news and possibly the advertising. You click on links and read one post after another. Hours can pass without you even being aware of it.
Parents are advised to set a limit on the amount of time their children spend on Facebook or online in general, but all of us may be better off if we limit the amount of time we spend on social networks. A great deal of research has shown that spending too much time “connected” has a negative effect on children. They miss out on healthier activities, like sports and spending time with people in “real life.” The same is true for adults.
Daydreaming is practically a lost art. While you might think of daydreaming as a waste of time, it is actually good for your brain. Daydreaming enhances creativity and plays a role in memory storage. It's important to spend some time doing absolutely nothing; what some might call meditation.
Scientists from various fields of study are concerned about the amount of time we spend online. The introduction of smaller mobile computer devices has made things more convenient and made it possible to do things in remote locations that could not be done otherwise. But, the affordability and ready availability of those devices have meant that we spend even more time connected. It's just not healthy.
Luckily, there are simple solutions. Take frequent technology breaks. If you must spend a lot of time on the computer because of your work, take a short walk every hour or two. Do something physical.
If you're not in the mood for physical activity, turn off your cell phone and spend 10 or 15 minutes just looking out the window. Looking at things far away gives your eyes a break, too. The hours spent looking at arm’s length or closer distances put a strain on your eyes. Some studies suggest you can actually improve your vision by looking away, at items far away, on a regular basis.
When you're not working, stay offline. Disconnect. Go for a drive. Garden. Clean house. Talk to your family. Read a real book. Daydream. In other words, live life in the real world. You should find that your health and your mood improve as you spend more time off Facebook.
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