Do You Need a Break from Social Media?

Out and about, you'll likely see a majority of the people around you glued to a screen scrolling through some kind of social media platform. Laughing at a tweet, being in discussion with someone on Messenger or WhatsApp, or taking a Snapchat selfie on the sly.

Those in their teens especially are seen to be addicted to social media, which can create distractions at school or lead to parents nagging to stop being unsociable when Grandma Doris comes to visit. However, despite teens being labelled as social media-addicts, a new survey has revealed that a significant amount of teenagers have made the choice to take a break from social media.

The survey, conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, looked at American teenagers' attitudes towards social media and how they feel when disconnected from it. Seven-hundred-and-ninety 13 to 17-year-olds took part in the survey, and more than half, at 58%, said they had taken a break from social media.

The main reason teens said they took voluntary breaks from their favourite social media platforms was to focus on connecting with important people and information in their lives. They felt relief and found themselves with more time to do other things. Taking a break from any potential friendship drama or simply giving your eyes a rest from a screen can be beneficial, leading you to step back, evaluate and prioritise how your time is spent.

However, some respondents note that their breaks from social media were involuntary; perhaps their iPhone or other social media device got lost, stolen or confiscated. Those who had involuntary breaks from social media found themselves disconnected from important people in their lives, and out of the loop, creating anxiety.

The survey went on to reveal that there are many who hadn't taken any social media breaks (and do not wish to) as they fear they'll be missing out on social connections with friends and family, or due to the fact that they use social media to educate themselves on current affairs. Yet, with the rise of fake news, is social media really the best news source for influencing millennials?

Despite users taking breaks from social media, a majority of teens in contemporary society spend up to a whopping nine hours on social media per day, according to a Common Sense Media, as reported by CNN.

A break from social media, if required and voluntary, can be beneficial to step away from the hustle and bustle of live social activity; perhaps cut down social media use on just the weekends, or take a week long absence from your Facebook profile. However beneficial breaks are, with apps and platforms constantly bringing out new features, social media popularity is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.

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