Blog Entry, Lori Peters September 29, 2015

Is Social Media over-taking our lives?
Summary: 
So where does social media stand in terms of enhancing our lives. Well, I guess that depends on how you use it. The latest statistics show that around 42% of online adults use multiple social networking sites. Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of social media users are now multiple ages. You actually can become addicted to social media. The more positive reinforcement you get in the form of “like”, “follows” and comments can boost the rewards system in your brain making you want more of it and making it harder to stop. So how can we use social media for our betterment? A study, from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), suggests that using social media may even spread happiness. The research team, led by James Fowler of the School of Medicine at UCSD, found that happy status updates encourage other users to post happy status updates themselves.

Social Media- Contributor to Life Happiness or Not

So where does social media stand in terms of enhancing our lives. Well, I guess that depends on how you use it. The latest statistics show that around 42% of online adults use multiple social networking sites. Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of social media users are under the age of 30, although the number of older users is on the rise. Here are some great stats from Medical News Today:

  • On average, Americans spent 7.6 hours a month using social media, with the majority of individuals accessing social networking sites through cell phones.
  • Around 45% of Internet users aged 65 or older now use Facebook, increasing from 35% in 2012.
  • Recent statistics show that 63% of American Facebook users log on to the site daily, while 40% of users log on multiple times a day.
  • A research team, led by Dar Meshi of the Freie Universität in Germany says that 53% of participants in a recent survey said social media sites had changed their behavior, while 51% of these said the change had been negative.
  • Furthermore, the survey revealed that two thirds of participants reported difficulty relaxing and sleeping after they used the sites, while 55% said they felt "worried or uncomfortable" when they were unable to log onto their social media accounts.

You actually can become addicted to social media. The more positive reinforcement you get in the form of “like”, “follows” and comments can boost the rewards system in your brain making you want more of it and making it harder to stop. What is interesting is that researchers found that people who are more anxious and socially insecure are more likely to use the social networking site.

So how can we use social media for our betterment? A study, from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), suggests that using social media may even spread happiness. The research team, led by James Fowler of the School of Medicine at UCSD, found that happy status updates encourage other users to post happy status updates themselves.

"Our study suggests that people are not just choosing other people like themselves to associate with but actually causing their friends' emotional expressions to change," says Fowler.

"We have enough power in this data set to show that emotional expressions spread online and also that positive expressions spread more than negative."

In fact, the researchers believe that this viral spread of happiness is so strong that if magnified, it could trigger an "epidemic of well-being."

"If an emotional change in one person spreads and causes a change in many, then we may be dramatically underestimating the effectiveness of efforts to improve mental and physical health."

Twitter pulls in approximately 50 millions tweets a day! Check out  The Twitter Happiness Report  and you’ll find a mixed bag of what people say,  and about what during their days. It is hopeful though to know that good can be spread 140 characters at a time!

According to Lisa Kaplin from Your Tango, don’t compare yourself to others’ profiles and updates on social media sites; it can only bring you down if you don’t think you are doing as well. Don’t use social media to make yourself feel better. You need to work inside yourself for that. Being part of the Hater’s Club is no answer. Lastly, Use social media to learn, think, grow and connect. Social media can be a great resource for job offers or volunteer positions. It can be used to connect with others in your chosen field or to support each other in life’s endeavors. Or, at the least, on a hard day, social media is always good to make you laugh. “The bottom line is, social media will always be what you make of it. It can bring you joy, happiness, connection or comfort or it can add to your feelings of being ostracized, angry and alone. You are in charge of how frequently you interact with it and how you choose to respond to others while there. If you are struggling with feelings of insecurity and unhappiness, social media might not be the best place for you unless you are able to cultivate positive connection with others while on it.”

Check out my radio show, Happiness Hangout, for more on how to use social media and twitter to increase well-being with guest Gary Loper at bbs radio on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 8pm Eastern, 5pm Pacific.

Lori Peters is the creator of Happiness Hangout which provides resources, activities and professional Speaking services in the area of happiness and well-being. Her website and information is located at www.happinesshangout.net