Nielsen study reveals troubling social media trend

Earlier in the day, a friend and I were eating Dairy Queen when my phone lit up saying I had been mentioned on Twitter. A rare occurrence.

When I got back to the newsroom, I saw that a co-worker hacked my Facebook and posted what is considered in this newsroom to be tame.

Then, I listened to a YouTube video someone sent me while cruising through Flickr for some photos.

It dawned on me that in the previous three hours, I had spent maybe 90 percent of my time on some sort of social network.

According to TheNewBusinessBlog, 84 percent of people surveyed said they spend at least five hours online every day. Sixty-four percent of those said they spend at least seven hours a day online.

When almost one-third of people spend almost one-third of their time online, they become obsessed and reliant upon this technology. Still, there isn’t anything wrong with using a tool to make work easier.

However, what we do online is very telling of Americans. In a recent Neilsen study, the time spent online was an average of five to six hours per person a day. This makes sense and scares me.

For a second, we will assume that everyone spends at least seven hours online a day. That means at least 71 percent of the time we spend online is socializing.

This isn’t to say that using social media is bad.

Egyptians sparked their revolution primarily through social media. It gives people a new avenue of expression that we didn’t have before computers. In addition, it also connects and reconnects individuals who have lost touch.

My mom found her best friend from high school on Facebook. Personally, I found a friend whom I had thought moved away to California on Facebook.

The fact of the matter is that we are becoming addicted to this behavior. If we spent time on the Internet doing something other than chatting, we may get work done.

Not to say socializing is bad, but it shouldn’t dominate 71 percent of our time online.

A story reported a while back shows this to a T.

A mother was on Facebook tending to her cafe in Cafe World. She had just placed her 13-month-old son in the bathtub.

Needless to say, the mother wasn’t paying attention to her child, as she slumped face first in the tub for 10 minutes and drowned.

Maybe that example was gruesome to share, but it is necessary. Here is another example of social network addiction.

A 22-year-old mother in Florida was tending to her farm on Facebook’s Farmville game.

Her 3-year-old son in the next room was crying. What did she do you ask? It wasn’t give him a bottle and coddle him like a normal mother would.

She “shook the baby, had a cigarette to calm herself down, and shook the baby again,” according to a Florida Times-Union article.

Granted she probably had more problems than Facebook. However, it was just that which set her off.

The first mother has no excuse however. She couldn’t spend a total of maybe 10 minutes out of her life to bathe her child without playing on a social network.

Some of you may say, “Oh yea Stephen, well those are just extreme examples.”

Let me ask you this then. When you are in a conversation with someone and one of you says something funny, your first reaction is probably to post it on Twitter or Facebook.

When you want to watch a video you saw on the news, do you go to the news station? Or do you type into the web browser?

Even as I’m writing this article I can’t help but to take a Facebook and Twitter break every once in a while.

There is no doubt that using social networks reduces stress. But at what cost?

Before we would call up a friend on the phone, or talk to a family member to feel better about the day. Not anymore. We instead sit behind the keyboard, posting a sad status begging for someone to respond only to tell them you don’t want to talk about it. Everyone does it.

This happens for every emotion. When something good happens, its on Facebook. You and John Smith broke up. Tweeted. Broke a leg skating. It was on YouTube within two minutes.

Maybe I’m just old school, but I liked it when I got a call from my friends and family giving me the latest gossip or congratulating me on something.

Now all I get is, “Rebecca liked your status.” Thanks mom.

I’ll be the first one to stand up and say that social media is one of the most useful tools that we as Americans and humans have at our disposal. I will also stand up and defend your right to say what you want on it.

What I don’t want is to become reliant on it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some witty Tweets to write.

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