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Extended use of social media can have a debilitating effect: Users

Social media may have its benefits but its extended use can have a debilitating effect, several users told.

Aroonima Anup, a 19-year-old law student, spends about two hours on social media daily, primarily because as a student she does not have much time to spare for digital activities. She described Facebook and Instagram as addictive. “Many of my friends spend hours sending memes to each other. People are losing out on their lives by spending all that time online,” she said.

Although a study published by the University of California in 2013, following an assessment of over a billion status updates from over 100 million Facebook users from 2009 and 2012, shows that excessive periods spent on Facebook can create low-mood states. Varsha M, a 23-year-old student of the RR Institute of Technology who said that she spends an average of three to four hours on Facebook, feels she has never been depressed as a result.

“I enjoy looking at other people’s photographs and updates and feel happy because they are happy,” she said, adding that, however, her online time is ‘too much’. Sobin George, assistant professor at the Centre for Sociological Change and Development, however, cautioned against stigmatising social media.

“Despite the prevalence of propaganda and misinformation online, what is important to note is that such platforms give people a way to participate and engage in real-world issues, which they otherwise would miss out,” he said.

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