Social Media Addiction A Reflection of the Times?

Social media addiction popped up on one of the many daily briefs I receive. The latest report can from Retrevo Gadgetology study asking social media users about their behaviors. (Note: The actual blog page was removed.

In an article in Psychology Today, entitled Social Media Addiction Engage Brain discussed several reports and appeared to look at these behaviors more from a psychological sense of community and communication.

Other social media statistics suggests that 50% of all Facebook users come back daily. So it appears there are some very real behaviors specific to people being engaged on a regular basis with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

What this means for employers is less work is being done. The mobile device now has replaced the land line phone as well as Internet (desk top based computer) as  an employee productivity distraction or obstacle. Employees will not be delivering 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay or what used to be called 8 for 8.

One of my clients actually set a policy about cell phone use because of loss productivity. Her employees literally began going to the bathroom every 15 minutes to check their voice mails. Now if this does not sound like somewhat of an addictive behavior, it does sound like a lack of personal discipline and ethics.

Regardless if you call it an addiction (I am awaiting for the first insurance claim to be filed stating he or she is suffering documented psychological withdrawal and then for some doctor to assert this is now a disease!), a lack of self-discipline or just a sign of the times, the need to be connected 24/7 is now part of today’s workforce and society.

I have observed people:

  • Tweeting in Church
  • Writing on Facebook walls
  • Surfing the Web
  • Answering email
  • Texting

The only problem is these people were also engaged in:

  • Listening
  • Driving
  • Working on assigned tasks
  • Talking to someone else face to face

Brain research continues to demonstrate the brain is not designed to multi-task. Yes it can multi-task. However, the error rate goes up (think quality of results) the more multi-tasking going on and the time to finish also increases. Now it takes longer to do what needs to be done and there are more errors. How will that work for you or your organization?

Bottom line the need to be connected and response to a mobile device 24/7 will eventually translate into lower profits because of less efficient and effective employee productivity.  Companies will need to address this issue with policies and then enforce those rules if they want to stay with the flow of business and not fall behind.

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19 Responses to “Social Media Addiction A Reflection of the Times?”

  • Thank you for this very nice post, I was searching this very same topic for a research paper for school and I am so glad I found this, It has helped me so much.

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  • I work for a big corp that bans anything and everything.
    Trouble is, I think they need to embrace social media and cell phones in the workplace rather than legislate against it.
    Tell employees they can spend 10 minutes of every hour on Facebook instead of having a smoke break, as long as they are having discussion on the company’s fan page and engaging clients and customers there. An active fan page is a sign of success. Trust me, once you allow employees to do something within a structure, they will want to do it much less. Tell them “no” and they are right back in that bathroom tweeting away.

    Also, companies in my opinion need to change their way of thinking now that this new generation is coming up. It is not about “8 for 8” anymore… it is about results.
    If I want my sales reps to produce $5,000 in revenue per week then I don’t care how much Facebook or Twitter they do as long as COB Friday they bring me $5,000.
    This is results based, not “put in your 8 hours” based.
    These are of course just my opinions that have been tested out on my 50 employees over the years.

  • Thank you for taking the time to leave your comment. Please make sure you check out other resources for your research paper to ensure accuracy.

  • Glad to read you found it of interest. Thank you for the compliment. I am still a novice at this blogging; however having written over 1,600 articles, many of which are at, and and nationally published book – Be the Red Jacket – has helped me in this endeavor. Please share this site with others as I have a new goal to be in the top 100 sales blogs and business blogs.

  • Al – Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments and share your experiences. To allow employees the freedom that you suggest is a great idea, but most employees are not self-disciplined. Productivity research suggests only 1 out of 3 are actually engaged on the job. Two out of three give less than 6 hours of work. And without some policies and procedures in place, you could literally have your employees off leaving your customers standing at the cash register or on the phone with no one to address their needs.

    Agree results are important. With profit, being the most important result. For without profits, businesses will not continue. Given that 90% of all business die before the 10th year (according to the US SBA), reveals the importance of profits.

    In my opinion, these three key factors affect results:

    1. Disengaged employees affect the productivity (results) of engaged employees thus costing the company the bottom line.
    2. No strategic business action plan clearly articulating the desired results. One of my colleagues calls this being Captain Wing It. I then add this phrase “spraying and praying your actions all over the place with the hope that something will stick.”
    3. Attitudes and habits of all involved because it is not a question of “Do they (you) know it, but do they (you) want to do it?”

    I have been in places where the employee will be taking on cell phone when I am waiting. Under Federal Law, an employee is allowed one 15 minute paid break every 4 hours. To be taking a 10 minute break every hour regardless of the reason only decreases overall productivity and thus profitability.

    What probably makes more sense is to pay for performance such as commissioned sales people. With so many support personnel in any organization, instituting a firm wide performance pay plan is difficult, but not impossible. The greatest challenge would be getting the buy-in from the employees as having a pay for performance is an attitude that is contrary to what most people believe.

    Having worked in corporate America for over 20 years, in public education for 10 years and now having my own consulting firm for over 10 years, I can say in all honesty, there is an entitlement mentality in place for all generations within the workforce. The attitude you owe me for showing up is alive and well from at least the East Coast to the Midwest and even in Europe from my international clients.

    Finally, alignment is critical to any and all change. I encourage my clients to use the Galbraith Model for Organizational Development. This model helps to show the gaps.

  • Thanks for the link to my article on Psych Today; the study in Retrevo was one of the ones I discussed where it was not an empirically designed study and they did not ask any of the questions that are part of the diagnosis for addiction but made statements about addiction that were then picked up by another reporter who did not even give it the context of the first report (i.e. marketing, not psych, not really asking about addiction, etc.) Retrovo also did not ask about the goals and purpose for all the technology use which is a key factor in evaluating the use of pretty much anything. Sheer usage numbers are only good for a “wow” and beyond that, it’s important to know more.

    There is a tendency for people to label behavior as addiction as a pejorative description rather than a clinical diagnosis. A lot of this is done out of anxiety about the newness of it all. The problem is in part what you write, “I have observed…” It’s a very normal thing for us to interpret new data based on our observations. To me, there is a distinction between addiction and setting appropriate boundaries for activities at work or at home. The fact that this stuff is new and different makes it more difficult to set those limits because we’re still learning exactly what works well and what doesn’t. We don’t write personal letters or watch TV or countless other things at work either (usually.) Social media is especially confusing because it has so many uses that bridge work, home, play, family, etc. As you say, we need to focus on the goals (performance) and make the rules that suit. Where there is such a big paradigm shift, it is a great opportunity to reevaluate what we’re doing and eliminate what doesn’t make sense–both old and new. Peter Drucker said a good manager should eliminate 25% of what he used to do every year in order to find out what he should be doing now. Maybe social media upends things enough to give us the chance.

  • You are welcome to the link. I actually did a couple of searches because the initial link as mentioned in the posting was no longer valid which caused me to dig a little deeper as I had never heard of this particular firm.

    Agree observations are based upon our interpretations. However that should not limit the validity. Piaget limited his observations to only his two children and his work was initially refused credibility by many psychologists and learning experts especially here in America. Today his work is considered valid even with such a small observation pool.

    Possibly, we may wish to consider separating Social media into different buckets such as Social Media Marketing; Social Media Learning; Social Media Community; Social Media Family. After those buckets are created, then rules can be developed.

    Thanks for your comments and insights.

  • Super post – and great domain by the way:-)

  • Glad to read you enjoyed the posting. Please come back again. Yes, I too find the domain great. 🙂

  • sts:

    HI dude, can i post articles to your website ? Let me know if you are interested

  • Thanks for asking. To maintain the quality of this blog and the integrity, I am the only one posting. If you have a topic of interest and have written a blog, please let me know and I will review it to see if it can work in any future postings.

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