If you struggle with your social media time, you’re not alone
A study on digital addiction by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) concludes that “self-control problems magnified by habit formation might be responsible for 31 percent of social media use.”
1,938 Americans between 18 and 64 years old allowed researchers to monitor their social media use on their smartphones from March 22 to July 26, 2020. Participants who were encouraged to reduce their screen time by different means (a specific device functionality, financial incentive, text nudges, etc.) not only succeeded but were still using their phones less — six weeks after the experiment.
Two findings, in particular, stand out from this study:
“the model predicts that 31 percent of social media use is not what people would choose for themselves in advance.”
“Participants used the screen time limit functionality when we offered it in the experiment, and this functionality reduced FITSBY use by over 20 minutes per day.”
“FITSBY” is their acronym for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, web browsers, and YouTube.
The research says that awareness of self-control problems is not enough to change patterns; forming new habits is the key. People are using social media apps more than they intend to.
It also shows that success comes from a combination of better tech design and human support in service of the user’s well-being.
The results of this study corroborate my experience as a coach: digital addiction is a thing, but there is a way out. If you want to spend less time scrolling social media—and you probably do—you can.
You will regain control by identifying your triggers, forming new screen routines, making yourself aware of screen time limit apps you can use, and having an accountability partner.