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January 6, 2012, 4:47 am UTC
Not all things social media does for us is good, says an interesting infographic.
Social media has affected almost every sphere of our lives. While we wax eloquent about the good it has done, it sometimes helps to remember the ways in which it may not be so good for us.
A recent infographic plays the devil’s advocate by focusing on our reduced attention spans, thanks to social media. According to SocialTimes.com infographic, our attention spans have reduced from 12 minutes a decade back to a staggeringly low 5 minutes today. Not that 12 minutes was high in the first place, but to fall further low in the order should be disturbing us all.
Collating information from various sources, the infographic begins: “Are you accustomed to receiving your news in 140 characters? Watching videos in less than 10 minutes? If so, you may be changing the way your brain works. Studies show that social media has a profound effect on the human mind, something we should all be aware about.”
Stating that the average attention span at present is five minutes long as compared to 12 minutes 10 years ago, it goes on to makes some startling revelations:
- 25% forget the names or details of close friends and even relatives.
- 7% forget their own birthdays from time to time.
- People often forget pots and pans put on the stove
- In the UK last year, 1.6 billion pounds worth of damage was caused by lack of concentration
- The average office worker checks his email inbox 30-40 times an hour – nearly once every 1.5 minutes!
- 500,000 people join Twitter everyday with 12 million Twitter users following 64 or more Twitter accounts and 1.5 million follow over 511 accounts.
- People spend 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month.
- 41.6% of people access email on the mobile phone.
However, the infographic stretches it a bit too far to blame only social media for the decline in attention span. It correctly states that “Every time we start a new task, the brain has to reorient itself,” but blames only the internet when it says, “Interruptions can be deadly to production, yet the internet is designed to distract.” It is true that the internet is a weapon of mass distraction in our daily lives today, but it is not the only culprit. We have other distraction, like mobile phone and multiple devices and screens among others.
Yet, it does go on to specify the changes in brain that are happening in us.
It quotes studies to state that
- A 2009 study of college students found that 57% felt their generation uses social media to seek out attention and self-promote.
- 40% college students agreed that social media self-promotion and attention seeking was useful to get ahead in the world.
- Social networking can stimulate the same type of hormonal responses as talking to friends or family. This means that when it should actually happen i.e. during face-to-face social interaction, it does not.
- Adrenaline is released when we respond to a sudden change in environment and social media is a series of changes, giving body plenty of cause to send out burst of this addictive hormone.
The infographic also gives ironic proof of this lack of concentration affecting work, when it makes a crucial mistake: instead of correctly stating that our attention span has dropped to five minutes, it makes the mistake of making it ‘five seconds’.
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