Increasingly, my friends are shutting down at least some of their social media accounts.  It’s not that they think the sites are bad in themselves.  It’s that they increasingly recognize that, rather than them controlling social media, social media is controlling them. 

Tailored for our brains’ social reward pathways, functions like the Facebook ‘Like’ button have us going back again and again for the ‘hit’ we get from someone validating something we have said or done – with little actual social connection or value gained from the precious time we spend doing so.  Roughly three-quarters of Facebook users (74%) visit the site daily, including about half who do so several times a day, according to recent data from Pew Research. 

Facebook and Youtube continue to be the most widely used platforms among American adults.  However, the shares of adults who say they use Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter are each largely the same as in 2016, with only Instagram showing an increase in use since that time.   

Mindlessly scrolling down social media feeds might provide us with some useful, interesting, or even uplifting information, but many increasingly feel the time trade-off doesn’t measure up to the reward.  They would rather spend their time purposefully on something else, but find themselves in a cycle of habit, or even addiction. 

The three key questions they are asking themselves are:

– Am I being purposeful about my time?

– Am I in control of my time, or am I acting out of habit or addiction?

– Am I being distracted too much from the real and important people in my life?


As a result, the habit and discipline of ‘digital minimalism’ is becoming popular (that is, strictly limiting time spent on digital devices, and using them in a decisive and purposeful manner).  Still more people are turning off social media altogether because of privacy concerns and annoyance at censored points of view, which mean that unelected big corporates can effectively act as biased ‘moral policemen’.

According to The Federalist our kids spend a lot of time on digital devices too,

Kids ages 2 to 8 average 2.5 – 3 hours of daily screen time, or about 20 hours per week. Kids ages 8 to 12 average 4.5 hours of daily screen time, or more than 30 hours per week. Teens average more than six hours per day, or more than 40 hours per week. Teens could literally hold down a full-time job if they cut out the video games and YouTube. None of this is for school, either, as school-age kids average 16 minutes of daily school-related screentime.


How purposeful and in control of your time are you?  And what example are you setting for your children?

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...