Social media addiction is currently one of the most common addictions in our society. Social media platforms have been designed to be addictive as the longer we stay on them, the more the platform can learn about us, the more targeted adverts they can show us, and the more likely we are to click on those ads and generate income for the platform.
So, can this addiction impact workplace performance?
The short answer is YES! As with any addiction, it is likely to have an impact on the everyday lives (including working lives) of those with the addiction.
How Social Media Addiction Can Impact Workplace Performance
Social media addiction is likely to have a negative impact on the individual’s ability to sleep. Getting in to bed and having a ‘last scroll’ delays sleep time, especially if this scrolling goes on for hours. As well as the problem of losing sleep time, scrolling before bed also feeds our brains with light, signalling that it is time to rise rather than sleep. A last scroll before bed also means we take on lots of content and information just before falling asleep and we may find that we then are wide awake in the middle of the night.
Sleep is so important for our performance. The odd bad night of sleep won’t have a hugely detrimental impact. However, if this happens every night, it’s soon going to hold back our ability to perform in our job role.
- FOCUS AND ATTENTION
Our focus and attention can be impacted in a number of ways if we have an addiction to social media.
Firstly, we are going to feel a strong desire to stop what we are doing and instead look at social media. This makes it much harder to focus on task. Also, excessive scrolling is like brain training. It feeds our brains small snippets of information at a time, quickly moving from one thing to the next. This trains our brains to only be able to focus for very short periods of time. In the workplace, this is going to hold back our performance, with an inability to stay focused on task.
Social media use has been shown to detrimentally impact our creativity. Whilst creativity can be aided by consuming new pieces of information, it is in periods of quiet that those information pieces can be processed in to ideas. There is a reason that our best ideas often come to us in the shower, as we’re not able to consume any new information whilst we are showering! Being plugged in excessively reduces those periods of silence and processing time. This can be damaging for innovation within businesses, especially if the individual’s job role requires creativity.
- MENTAL HEALTH
The rise in social media has also seen a rise in mental health problems. There are many reasons that social media can have a negative impact on our mental health. It can give us little time to do the things that bring joy and fulfilment to our lives, and stop us being present with the people that matter. It can limit our social, face-to-face interactions and keep us indoors rather than out in nature. Social media can also lead to lowered self-esteem, comparing our lives and looks to those we see online.
We can also be more inclined to look at content that give us a negative emotional reaction, making us feel angry or upset.
A lower mental health is going to impact our workplace performance. We’re going to feel less focused or motivated to succeed and may have physical symptoms that keep us away from the workplace.
With hybrid working, and more people working from home, this problem is even more exacerbated, as there is no one there to see you picking up your phone and scrolling on social media.
So, what can you do as an employer to help someone overcome social media addiction?
How To Help An Employee Overcome Social Media Addiction
- DON’T BAN SMARTPHONES
If you already allow smartphones in the workplace, suddenly banning them can be a drastic step, and one that might lead to resentment from the whole team. It’s also not going to solve the problem of social media addiction and may lead to increased agitation from those experiencing the addiction whilst at work.
You could start to introduce more formal rules around smartphone use, but this needs to be a baby steps approach rather than a sudden complete change of rules.
- INTRODUCE A DIGITAL WELLBEING COACH
Having a digital wellbeing coach (like me!) come in to the workplace and deliver group sessions can help to open up the thinking of those experiencing social media addiction. I can share actions for them to take to reduce their use and also explore what is leading them to pick up their phone and scroll on social media. I also run digital wellbeing workshops that cover using our smartphones less, and spending less time caught in the scroll. If you are unsure if any of your team are addicted to social media, this can be a great option in opening up their thinking about their digital wellbeing. Plus, it will lead to better productivity in the workplace! You can find out more about my digital wellbeing workshops here.
Social media addiction may feel like a minor issue compared to other addictions. However, it can definitely have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing and performance of individuals. If you would like to find out more about how I can help, get in touch!