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How addicted are people to social media?

Washington Post: “We found a way to measure it – Just as with smoking, people will pay to have their behavior restricted. The average person with Internet access spends 2.5 hours each day on social media, by one estimate, and there are now 3.8 billion social media users worldwide. A natural interpretation of these facts is that social media adds tremendous value to our lives. But anecdotally and in surveys, many people say they spend too much time on social media. Indeed, in surveys we’ve conducted, social media and smartphone use are two of the top five activities where people feel that they have self-control problems (along with exercising, saving money and eating unhealthy food). Perhaps another interpretation of our heavy social media use is that we’re “addicted.” According to our new study, a randomized experiment involving roughly 2,000 Americans, the truth is somewhere in between: We value social media, but we use more than we think is good for us. Our study finds that about 31 percent of social media use among people in our sample is caused by self-control problems. In other words, if people in our study could choose their preferred screen time in advance instead of scrolling uninhibited in the moment, they’d spend nearly one-third less time on social media…”

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