Facebook announced this week that users spent 50 million fewer hours on the social networking platform.
It’s official: We’re spending less time on Facebook.
“In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said this week when announcing the social media company’s fourth-quarter 2017 results. This reduction in usage comes after Facebook made a number of changes, including showing users less content from media outlets in favor of more content from their friends and family. “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term,” Zuckerberg said.
So what are we doing instead of playing on Facebook? In many cases, simply playing on different social media outlets: “While users are spending less time on Facebook, they are spending more time on social media overall,” says University of Florida communications professor Andrew Selepak, who is the director of a graduate program in social media. Just from 2016 – 2017, daily “social media usage of global internet users amounted to 135 minutes per day, up from 126 daily minutes,” Statista notes — and experts think there will be more total social media usage in future years. “Social media’s influence has still not reached its peak,” concludes one report.
Instead of Facebook and Twitter, many are heading to Instagram and Snapchat, says Kent Lewis, a digital marketing adjunct professor at Portland State University and the president and founder of Anvil. And they’re spending plenty of time there: Snapchat users spend about 25 minutes a day on the platform and Insta users 15 minutes.
In short: While some may initially applaud our spending a little less time with Facebook — which is still the most popular social network on earth — that doesn’t mean we’re all spending less time on social media overall. (The average person will now spend about five years of their lives on social media.) And that’s not good for our mental health.
For one, swapping one social media outlet for another doesn’t do much to combat the loneliness of using social media. A study of more than 1,700 people ages 19-32 published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the more time people spend on social media overall — in this case sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Snapchat — the more likely it is that they will feel socially isolated. Spend more than two hours a day swiping and scrolling — and your risk of feeling socially isolated doubles, as compared to those who spent 30 minutes or less. Other negative impacts of high levels of social media usage include increased anxiety, depression and sleep issues, research shows.
What’s more, the social platforms we are increasingly gravitating toward may make us feel more miserable than Facebook does, research shows. Indeed, Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s health and well-being, according to a survey of nearly 1,500 people ages 14-24 released last year by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) and the Youth Health Movement. (When the study was released, Instagram told Moneyish that “keeping Instagram a safe and supportive place, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, is our top priority.”)
Of course, there are plenty of positive impacts of social media too. It allows us to easily connect to people we might not otherwise be able to easily stay connected to — like friends who have moved far away. And some say that social media actually helps them feel more confident; others note that it can help with social anxiety, says Barak Kassar, the co-founder of BKW partners. And the big players like Facebook say they are working to make their platforms better for us. Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg noted this week that: “In 2018, we’re focused on making sure Facebook isn’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and for society. We’re doing this by encouraging meaningful connections between people rather than passive consumption of content.”
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