We do not share your data with any other companies, and you will not be personally identified.
Already have an account? .
No account yet? .
Please enter your email to reset your password. You will receive the password reset email shortly.
Please input the 6 digit code from the email and your new password.
Did not receive an email? Please check your junk mailbox, or try another email address.
Ruby Liu MY
One-stop online mental health self-help platform.
Living in this extraordinary digital era, smartphones have seamlessly integrated into our daily routines, becoming inseparable companions. It's not surprising to witness kindergarteners immersing themselves in the enchanting worlds of Peppa Pig and Baby Shark on YouTube. Likewise, high school and college students eagerly follow their friends and celebrities on Instagram, utilizing it as a platform to stay connected, share the latest news, engage with current affairs, and exchange memes with their peers. Interestingly, even the older generation has enthusiastically embraced the digital landscape, finding joy in listening to nostalgic oldies and staying informed through current affairs podcasts on YouTube.
What about you? Ever pay attention to how much time you spend online every day? In the second quarter of 2023, global internet users were clocking in an average of 6 hours and 41 minutes on the internet daily. And get this, a whopping three hours of that was spent on social media. If we assume we're getting a solid 8 hours of sleep (fingers crossed), it means we're devoting around a fifth of our waking hours to scrolling through our social feeds.
Scholars at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania conducted experiments involving more than 6,000 American students and working adults. Their objective was to identify the factors that influence our decision to continue watching media instead of engaging in other activities. They discovered three key factors that significantly impact this choice:
Indeed, the three factors mentioned - number of views, similarity of content, and watching pattern - contribute to increasing the familiarity or immediate memory (accessibility) of the media in the viewer's mind. This heightened familiarity often leads to a desire to continue watching similar content. When we have easy access to a specific type of content and become immersed in it, it can create a phenomenon known as "The rabbit hole effect". This effect refers to the expectation that consuming more of the same type of content will bring us increased pleasure or satisfaction.
The findings of the study shed light on why we can easily get engrossed in various social media platforms while at work. These platforms leverage algorithms and big data to analyze users' browsing habits across different apps and websites. By understanding users' preferences, they recommend posts, videos, and advertisements that align closely with their interests. The goal is to entice users to click on these recommendations, generating revenue from advertisements, and prolonging their stay on the platform.
This personalized approach leads us down a path of exploration, starting from a specific topic of interest. We are guided to follow links, click on recommended videos or articles, and delve into an array of topics. Over time, this can gradually steer us away from our original focus, making us lose track of time in the process.
Furthermore, the algorithmic mechanism offers a stream of tailored, bite-sized content. It automatically suggests similar content and even enables auto-play functionality. While this reduces the likelihood of interruptions during browsing, it also diminishes the exposure to content from diverse fields and perspectives. Consequently, there is an increased risk of succumbing to the "filter bubble" or "echo chamber" phenomenon.
Watching memes and videos is undoubtedly an enjoyable aspect of life. However, when these media start monopolizing the time that could be better spent on important tasks, it becomes imperative to initiate a change. Effectively bringing about this change does not mean completely abstaining from watching; instead, we can shift our focus towards how we watch.
By taking small actions aimed at promoting attitudinal change, such as reducing the similarity and repetition of the content we consume and consciously countering the allure of algorithms, we can regain control. Here are some detailed methods to consider:
Take a moment to reflect on why you find yourself spending extended periods on social media. Is it due to procrastination, the fear of missing out (FOMO) on the latest trends and updates from friends, or perhaps a way to avoid facing your work or responsibilities? By consciously analyzing your behavior, step by step, you can gain a better understanding of your mindset and the underlying factors that contribute to your excessive social media use.
Amidst the battle for our attention on social media, it's important to regain control and prioritize our own lives, taking charge of how we explore and experience the world.
Woolley, K., & Sharif, M. A. (2022). Down a Rabbit Hole: How Prior Media Consumption Shapes Subsequent Media Consumption. Journal of Marketing Research, 59(3), 453-471. https://doi.org/10.1177/00222437211055403
Ruby Liu MY
Well-being Promotion Officer of Jockey Club TourHeart+ Project
One-stop online mental health self-help platform