Got the Facebook fears?
According to a recent study released by non-profit Anxiety UK, over half of the social media users polled said Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites had changed their lives -- and 51 percent of those said it's not been for the better.
Forty-five percent of responders said they feel "worried or uncomfortable" when email and Facebook are inaccessible, while 60 percent of respondents stated "they felt the need to switch off" their phones and computers to secure a full-fledged break from technology. In other words, it's not being on social networks that makes people anxious. It's being away from them.
"These findings suggest that some may need to re-establish control over the technology they use, rather than being controlled by it,” says Anxiety UK CEO, Nicky Lidbetter.
Data also revealed that two-thirds of respondents had difficulty sleeping after using social media, and 25 percent admitted to difficulties in relationships because of "confrontational online" behavior, per the Telegraph.
The survey was conducted by the Salford Business School at the University of Salford, where 228 participants were polled for Anxiety UK's research.
While the study consists of a small sample size, Salford's data backs up other information on social media addiction. In a recent study Mobile Mindset study by Lookout, it was found that 73 percent of people would panic if they lost their smartphone, while another 54 percent admit to checking their phone "while lying in bed."
But are social media users anxious because of social media, or do more anxious people gravitate toward digital interactions?
“If you are predisposed to anxiety it seems that the pressures from technology act as a tipping point, making people feel more insecure and more overwhelmed," Lidbetter states.
A similar study from the University of Bergen in Norway measured Facebook user addiction this last April, finding those with poor sleeping habits were most likely to be Facebook-obsessed.
"We have also found that people who are anxious and socially insecure use Facebook more than those with lower scores on those traits, probably because those who are anxious find it easier to communicate via social media than face-to-face," author of the study Dr. Cecilie Schou Andreassen states.
While social media may cause some anxiety, don't add depression to the list of Facebook's vices just let. As Katherine Bindley of the Huffington Post reported, new research from the University of Wisconsin suggests the amount of time spent on Facebook had little correlation to test subject's symptoms of depression.
Do you believe your social media use has added stress and anxiety to your life? Or are digital interactions a "tipping point" for already anxious users? Let us know in the comments section, and then check out the slideshow below of six things that are allegedly less addictive than social media.
The Guardian reports "tweeting or checking email may be harder to resist" than alcohol, among other substances. In one test conducted by Wilhelm Hofmann of the University of Chicago, researchers found that users' desire to check their phones was stronger than the urge to grab a drink. Researchers also found "that as the day wore on, willpower became lower" when attempting to avoid a smartphone.
In the same University of Chicago study, social media was also found to be "more addictive" than cigarettes. Forbes writes: It's a feeling we're all familiar with -- that we'll just sign on, check Facebook, check Twitter, see what's there. The little buildup of tension when the loading screen starts to go, the little release when it jumps and the page loads. It's a quick, easy fix unlikely to give you liver disease or lung cancer, one of the reasons that the addiction may be so much more pervasive than traditionally harmful pastimes. "With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs -- long-term as well as monetary -- and the opportunity may not always be the right one," Hofman, the researcher who conducted the study, told The Guardian. "So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time."
While the urge for sex may still be stronger, participants in the University of Chicago study had little willpower over their social media needs. The University of Chicago News notes, "Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist."
Using the "phone" function to talk on on smartphones has increasingly been taking a back seat to Facebook-ing, tweeting, checking-in, and the like. Chitchatting on the phone after school doesn't happen often for today's younger generations. In a study involving over 1,000 13- to 17-year-olds, Facebook "dominated teens, with seven out of 10 people surveyed saying they have an account," per The Washington Post. The study also found that only 4 percent of the participants prefer to use the telephone as a method of communication. So maybe we still don't know much about how addictive phone calls are relative to social media -- but we do know they're a whole lot less popular.
The LA Times reports that 55 percent of Americans polled in a survey said caffeine was less crucial to them than access to social media: More than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and caffeine for a week before parting temporarily with their phones, according to a recent survey by technology firm TeleNav.
The Guardian reports that a panel at a Citigroup conference in 2008 discussed an interesting correlation between high Facebook usage and low web traffic for adult websites: While causation is a tricky burden to prove, the theory goes that young people are too busy social networking to get, er... distracted by adult online content. Apparently when Facebook had server problems last year there was a corresponding spike up of users returning to look at adult content.
The Gillmor Gang discuss the progress and power of social media.