Advertisement
Columns

Social networks – blessing or curse

Advertisement

I have been researching the use of social networks recently, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and the statistics are pretty alarming.

Of course, social networks allow you to connect with loved ones who are far away, make new friends, express your political or personal perceptions to all your “friends” in one small sentence, and market and carry out business in a wider, faster market.

But here are some statistics that may make you ask yourself, do the benefits outweigh the risks? Bear in mind, most of these statistics are collected in the West. Africa, one of the fastest growing markets for internet services, is still an unknown quantity, but with the advent of big data, we may know more in the next few years.

Advertisement

Did you know that there are more than two billion active social media users worldwide, representing a global penetration rate of 28 percent? Social networking already accounts for 28 percent of all media time spent online, and users aged between 15 and 19 spend at least 3 hours per day on average using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Eighteen percent of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook, and 28 percent of iPhone users check their Twitter feed before getting up in the morning. Following such repetitive behavior, social network addiction is becoming a recognised phenomenon. South Korea considers Internet addiction one of its most serious public health issues.

Using data from 2006, the South Korean government estimates that approximately 210,000 South Korean children are afflicted and require treatment. About 80 percent of those needing treatment may need psychotropic medications, and perhaps 20 percent to 24 percent require hospitalization. Since the average South Korean high school student spends about 23 hours each week gaming, another 1.2 million are believed to be at risk for addiction and to require basic counselling.

Studies are now being done that seem to show that Facebook addiction activates the same areas of the brain as drugs. This has led to the new phrase, digital detoxing, where users suffering from digital overload look to refrain from using devices such as smartphones or computers for a period of time. Benefits include becoming more people orientated, lowered anxiety and more focus on real life. There are also claims that a lack of face to face contact can affect you both socially and physically.

Advertisement

Here are some recent statistics from the West, outlining the scale of the potential problem facing us all. Between 60 and 80 percent of users internet time at work have nothing to do with work. In America, it is estimated that an average worker spends nearly one quarter of their work day browsing social media for non-work related activities.

1.23 billion users log in to the Facebook site for at least 17 minutes every day. Did you know that 5 million images are uploaded to Instagram daily?

In terms of productive hours, a lot of time is wasted by workers on non-work related issues. In Malawi with data capped internet services, not only does this result in loss of productivity from employees, but also increased bandwidth costs, or slow networks from such activity.

I have written before about how these abuses can be curtailed by the use of filtering apps and user training and IT policy enforcement. If you feel you have a problem personally, a suggestion is to carry out a digital detox.

This means switching off all mobiles, smartphones, computers and tablets for a certain length of time. Try 24 hours, if that is too long, or you are required to be online and accessible for work reasons, look at eight hours, I am talking about waking hours here!

If you require to do a work detox, visit one of the sites on the internet, a good example is www.digitaldetox.org for further guidance. But scrutinise your own usage honestly and closely and aim to make your life healthier and more interactive.

Facebook Notice for EU! You need to login to view and post FB Comments!
Advertisement
Show More
Advertisement

Related Articles

Check Also

Close
Back to top button
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker