More connected, but sadder and alone. This paradox reflects the danger of misuse of social networks. So much so that there is no shortage of data linking excess electronics to problems such as low self-esteem and social satisfaction, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. But then, why do so many people still live glued to the screens?
On the one hand, nobody argues that they facilitate contacts, meetings, interactions and information exchange. And they played a key role in the pandemic, bringing those who were far away, including within the intensive care units (ICU).
On the other hand, it is known that they are thought almost as if to addict. It is the same reward mechanism that activates neurotransmitters associated with the expectation of a reward or pleasurable activity. That’s why it’s so hard to stop.
In addition, they direct what the person sees according to their preferences and invite the user to spend hours completely absorbed, in a phenomenon that some experts have called dissociation — when the person loses the sense of self-awareness and the passage of time.
Recently, in a panel presented by researchers at a conference on human-machine interaction in New Orleans, in the United States, researchers warned that this can compromise day-to-day task management and life goals. In the end, it just feels like a waste of time – just wasted on the scrollbar.
Even before the pandemic, American researchers at West Virginia University had already sounded the alert. Intrigued by the impact of online experiences on loneliness, they evaluated more than 1,000 students aged between 18 and 30.
Result: For every 10% increase in bad interactions, participants reported a 13% increase in feeling alone. But the opposite did not occur: the same increase in good experiences did not improve the perception of isolation.
“The problem is that social networks only show good things, happy moments, celebrations of achievements. People compare their lives with their experiences and even with their appearance and end up feeling inferior”, observes Victoria Domingues, a psychologist at Hospital Israelita. Albert Einstein.
Worse still in the case of teenagers, a stage in which the person is more seeking the approval of the group. “The clicks end up reflecting in the mood”, says the expert. “We’re seeing an increasingly anxious and depressed generation.”
It is known that networks are here to stay, but to take advantage of their positive side, it is worth keeping an eye out for some warning signs. When checking your cell phone is the first thing you do before getting out of bed, if you prefer to stay at home instead of going out with friends or family or doing other healthy activities like exercise, if you compare yourself to others or presents a worsening in school or work performance, it’s time to rethink your habits.
“It is necessary to remember that they cause dependence”, emphasizes Victoria. “Use cannot interfere with daily activities to the point of disturbing work, sleep, good nutrition, socializing with others”, added the psychologist.