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Are social media sites “cigarettes” of mental health? New report says yes

by | Jun 28, 2021 | Public Relations

Most of us are admittedly addicted to social media, and an interesting new survey of social media users by critical thinking firm Reboot Foundation finds that even though a strong majority acknowledge that the platforms contribute to their symptoms of poor mental health, a shocking 70 percent said they wouldn’t give up their accounts for less than $10,000. Another 40 percent said they would choose to keep their social media accounts over their cars, TVs and even their pets.

The survey asked more than 1,000 social media users about their usage, their mental health, and other questions about how social media impacts their lives. Specifically, participants were asked whether they thought their social media use intensified any of the following feelings or conditions: anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, loneliness, or low self-esteem. For each of these conditions, more than 50 percent of respondents indicated those feelings were at least “somewhat” intensified by social media, while at least 20 percent for each option indicated they were “very” or “extremely” intensified.

Are social media sites “cigarettes” of mental health? New report says yes

“These survey results clearly show the deep and somewhat disturbing attachments users have to their social media accounts,” said Helen Lee Bouygues, Reboot’s founder and president. “Even though users recognize the deleterious effects social media has on their mental health, they’re unwilling—or unable—to limit their use of these platforms. It’s not unlike a smoker and their cigarettes.”

Despite acknowledging social media’s harmful impact on their mental health, only about a third said that they take steps to limit their social media use, such as deleting or suspending social media accounts, turning off their phones, or limiting content on their feeds.

When asked hypothetically how much money, at minimum, they would want to delete all their social media accounts permanently, over 70 percent said it would take $10,000 or more, with 20 percent saying it would take at least $1 million.

Are social media sites “cigarettes” of mental health? New report says yes

Overall, the survey paints a picture of a majority of users who feel they are able to use social media without doing serious harm to their mental health, but nonetheless acknowledge that they experience its negative impacts.

The survey also asked participants to assess their critical thinking skills and about their support for teaching critical thinking in schools. When it comes to schools, respondents recognized the importance of teaching critical thinking skills: 95 percent thought critical thinking courses should be required at the K-12 level.

Are social media sites “cigarettes” of mental health? New report says yes

Other notable findings from the report:

  • 95 percent said critical thinking is “extremely” or “very important,” and 85 percent said they find those skills lacking in the general public.
  • About 50 percent reported their critical thinking skills had improved since high school, with almost 16 percent reporting that their skills had deteriorated since.

Read the full report here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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