Social Media Is An Addiction

If you had to pick between a social media addiction and Covid, it would be better to pick Covid: it only debilitates you for a few days, then goes away. Social media debilitates you for years, perhaps many years. It is designed to be addictive, and ‘improved’ consistently.

And the fatalities of Covid are probably fewer: Covid kills a fraction of one percent of the people it infects; social media damages orders of magnitude more people, and over a far longer time-span. Many of social media’s victims will attempt suicide, not to mention living with a crippling debilitation and all that flows downhill from it.

To make the point, below are the results of two recent studies. I won’t include links, because that creates spam issues for us, but this first one comes from someplace called We Are Social, which I found through something called Influencer Marketing Hub.

These are 2022 numbers, and they showed the amount of time the average Internet user spent:

    • 2 hours and 27 minutes using social media each day.
    • 3 hours 21 minutes watching all types of television.
    • 2 hours 5 minutes reading press media.
    • 1 hour 35 minutes listening to music streaming.
    • 1 hour 1 minute listening to broadcast radio.
    • 57 minutes listening to podcasts.
    • 1 hour 13 minutes playing video games on a games console.

That come out to 12 hours and 39 minutes. I don’t know how much overlap there is in these numbers, whether these are the people who no longer want jobs, or whether the survey is a bit off (though it matches others I’ve run into fairly well).

This survey also found some very troubling mental health consequences:

    • In 2020, Gen Z became 15% more likely to say that social media gives them anxiety.
    • The rate of individuals reporting major depression in the previous 12 months increased 52% in adolescents between 2005 to 2017.
    • 27% of children who spend three or more hours daily on social media exhibit poor mental health.
    • The majority of teenagers with low social well being feel excluded when using social media.
    • People who visit social media sites at least 58 times per week are 3 times more likely to feel socially isolated and depressed.

Where It’s More Bad And Less Bad

Someplace called Oberlo produced data on social media usage statistics by country, for the year 2021. Here’s their list of the highest and lowest:

    • Philippines: 248 minutes per day
    • Brazil: 226
    • Nigeria: 222
    • Columbia: 221
    • South Africa: 217
    • Argentina: 205
    • Mexico: 205
    • Indonesia: 200
    • Ghana: 200
    • Saudi Arabia: 196


    • Switzerland: 87
    • Austria: 85
    • Netherlands: 85
    • South Korea: 73
    • Japan: 50

What to do about this I leave to you. Obviously I think this is horrifying data, evincing a very, very bad problem. The purpose of this post is make you aware of the scope.


Paul Rosenberg

4 thoughts on “Social Media Is An Addiction”

  1. Paul,
    Thanks for this timely post.
    You are absolutely correct. Social Media is addictive. Back in the old days, we libertarians used to say “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, and that applies to “free” Twitter, Facebook, TicTock, or any other service of that kind. They are not free. You pay to use them, you just don’t see the payment being made because YOU are the product being sold.
    James Corbett has done some stellar work on this topic of late, that I would recommend.
    Thanks again, Paul!

  2. Stolen Focus by Johann Hari recounts a lot of science about what it’s doing to us . I thought I was fully aware of the issue, but the book still floored me in many places.

  3. A friend of mine made the comment some months ago that “quitting social media will be the new quitting smoking.”

    I can only hope that he’s correct and that culturally we begin to shun it like we did with smoking. I admit that while I shut down and canceled my FB and IG accounts back during the covid/election idiocy of late 2020, I still occasionally use YouTube and browse Reddit for topics that interest me (music, aviation, etc). Never did have a twitter account though, so nothing to quit there.

Comments are closed.