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Is Social Media Making Us Less Productive?

Taylor Dyer


March 25, 2023


 


In recent years technology has become incredibly advanced, and social media platforms have gained vast popularity. In 2007, when the iPhone was introduced, smartphones became increasingly popular. Since then, social media platforms have changed the world forever by opening new doors for people to communicate. However, it leads to the question, are these platforms causing people to become less productive?


Just think about how often you spend checking your phone each day. Many people feel detached without them, even when faced with a short trip to the bathroom or attending what should be a productive workout in the gym. Phones are often the first thing we reach for in the morning and the last thing we see at night; it seems society cannot function without screen time.


According to The 30-Day Productivity Plan by Damon Zahariades, “social media addiction is clearly a problem, and even if you’re not addicted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’re probably visiting them far too often.” 


Negative Impacts of Social Media


It is not uncommon for people to keep their phones by their bed, often because they have set a morning alarm, but the downside is that it makes it all too easy to check social media when they should be getting a good night's rest


Looking at a phone screen before bed is terrible for sleep because phones emit blue light. While cellphone companies have implemented technology to limit the amount of this light, there is no way to eliminate it entirely. It is possible to put blue light filters on your screen, and some phones even have an eye comfort shield that is designed to limit the amount of blue light. 


Blue lights can be detrimental because they send signals to your brain that it is daylight. When natural light levels start to decrease, a hormone called melatonin is produced, helping our body prepare to wind down and get into our sleep cycle.


That is why a late-night scroll on social media may not be such a good idea, even if only for a short time. Our brain gets confused into thinking it is still daytime, keeping us awake. We probably do not function at our optimum levels if we have barely slept the night before, meaning work life could become seriously affected.


Social media can also impact our attention span. A study by Microsoft shows people typically lose focus after about eight seconds, demonstrating the improvements in digital technology can cause perhaps negative impacts on the brain. 


What is even more surprising is when you put that into perspective by comparing it to wildlife. For instance, Microsoft says we have shorter attention spans than goldfish since they can focus on a task or object for nine seconds.  


It is quite unsettling when you think of how many essential professions are out there where having a good attention span is vital to performing well.


A third negative impact social media could potentially have on productivity is creating a passive society with the spread of misinformation. Since social media is so widely available and easily accessible, it is easy for false information to spread quickly. 


Since not everyone will fact-check what they see on social media, it has become difficult to filter out the accurate information from the fabricated. Once misinformation is out there and reaches a large group of people, it can be hard to replace that with factual information and convince people the new data is, in fact, accurate. This issue became increasingly prevalent during the COVID pandemic when governments altered the rules frequently.


How Social Media Improves Productivity


While arguments can be made that social media negatively impacts productivity, there can also be a case made for how it improves it as well. One of those examples is that it is widely used by journalists to spread accurate information to citizens, and it can also be done so very quickly.


Just think about the last time there was severe weather in your area; maybe there was even a snowstorm. You probably received a push alert on your cellphone to warn you about hazardous weather conditions.


Social media allows you to reach a vast group of people in a very short space of time. To watch the news, you must consciously go and turn the television on, and select a channel; however, social media allows you to simply scroll and read a range of news sources, providing you with the same information, only quicker.


Secondly, social media can also be used within the workplace to improve communication. Slack is a good example here because it is often referred to as a social media network in disguise.


Slack has made it easier for employees to communicate using its mobile app, similar to using something like Facebook or the Messenger app. Slack really became popular during the pandemic when face-to-face communication was not an option, and many employees were required to work from home.


It has made completing tasks and keeping track of those completed tasks a lot easier, especially when people are not in the office. In addition to that, Slack is also working on ways to make it easier for companies to communicate with other organizations.


So, when asked whether social media is making us less productive, it all comes down to who you ask and what they use their social media for. If social media is just being used for leisure and does not serve any real purpose, then chances are it is making us less productive.


 


However, if it is being utilized in the workplace and it is proven that it adds value to the company, then it can boost productivity, and quite often even improve job satisfaction among staff. 


 


Edited by: Yasmin


 


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