Mindless Scrolling

It’s undeniable that media is a large part of our daily lives, in fact it would most likely take a calculated effort to seclude oneself from the plethora of media that one encounters in a day.  The hyper accessibility of the media has many benefits, you can tune in to see what’s going on in the world thousands of miles away, watch a how-to video on YouTube, communicate with a friend in another time zone…the list goes on and on.  Despite the many benefits that we reap from media, there are some negative aspects that stem from media use.  A type of media in particular that is tied to some detrimental findings is social media, specifically in the form of social networking.  Social networking websites (SNS) include Facebook, Twitter, dating applications, etc.  There have been concerns over it’s addictive potential and negative psychological effects within a minority population of its users.

Kuss & Griffiths (2011) conducted one of the first scientific literature reviews on the topic and have since updated their findings several years later.  In the updated literature review it was noted that there is conclusive evidence that social networking site (SNS) addiction does exist (Kuss & Griffiths, 2017).  The previous review could not conclude such findings because research on this topic was in its early stages.  It is important to note that while SNS addiction has been recognized, very few are clinically diagnosed.  For others it’s clearly a habitual behavior that may be perceived as annoying or rude to others.  Furthermore, it can cross the line and become problematic when it impedes driving performance by creating a distraction (Kuss & Griffiths, 2017).

So, what facilitates excessive social media use?

Kuss & Griffiths (2017) states that people access SNS mainly through their smartphones which gives users the ability to constantly check their smartphone. The behavior that is associated with the need to constantly stay connected is explained by the concept Fear of Missing Out or FoMO.  It is defined as “pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, FoMO is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing” (Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan & Gladwell, 2013, p. 1841).  Empirical results regarding FoMO conducted by Przybylski et al. (2013) showed that FoMo was negatively associated with mood and life satisfaction.  These results parallel with Kuss & Griffiths’ (2017) findings that there are negative psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, in a minority population that excessively uses social media.

Dr. Mark Griffith suggest implementing what he calls “digital detox strategies” if you are spending too much time on social media.  In a Washington Post article, Kuss & Griffith listed six questions that helped evaluate if you could benefit from a digital detox or if you are teetering on the line of potential addiction.  Besides evaluating your own personal social media use, I think that our society could benefit from rules being put in place to minimize our usage, such as workplaces and schools.  At the end of the day, it’s more fulfilling to be present in your own life, rather than mindlessly scrolling.


Kuss, D.J. & Griffiths, M.D. (2011). Online social networking and addiction: A literature review of empirical research. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 8, 3528-3552.

Kuss, D. J. & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). Social networking sites and addiction: Ten lessons learned. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health14(3), 311; doi:10.3390/ijerph14030311

Kuss, D. & Griffiths, M. (2018) 6 questions help reveal if you’re addicted to social media. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/04/25/social-media-addiction/?utm_term=.fcb7ca018554

Przybylski, A. K., Murayama, K., DeHaan, C. R., & Gladwell, V. (2013). Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(4), 1841-1848. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2013.02.014

Walton, A. (2017). 6 ways social media affects our mental health. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/#7c4c20c92e5a

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1 comment

  1. Rebecca Hanna Hormann

    It is honestly such a serious problem that you have addressed here, especially in the younger generations. Although I personally am a millennial, the huge difference between me and individuals who are only about 5 years young then me in terms of addiction to social media is absurd. The fact that these problems have gone so far as to have specific names shows us that it is having a huge impact on our lives. In your paper you talk about FoMO which is something that we experience in all types of situations, but I think its crazy that it has become something connected to social media.
    The digital detox strategies, in my opinion, are something that we should be thinking through every month or so. Keeping ourselves away from SNS addiction is going to have to be a consistent process as we are battling the influence from the world around as and therefore we need to be detoxing ourselves consistently.
    Your post was extremely interesting and obviously applicable to the real world. Thanks!

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