Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Warning: Social media may be bad for you

Web of woe: social media users have revealed they felt inadequate using the likes of Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are leaving people feeling inadequate, jealous and ugly, says a new survey. But can a detox bring users out of the digital doldrums?

When 1,500 users were asked about how they feel after using social networks like Facebook and Twitter, 62% revealed they felt inadequate about their life, or achievements, with a similar amount saying they felt jealous when checking out what their friends are up to.

Sound familiar? It can't help that the survey, carried out in July, comes right in the middle of the season when poolside selfies and sunset Instagram snaps are rife.

It's enough to make you stage a 'fakeation' – a spoof on the popular 'hot dogs or legs?' meme where you use two fingers (no, not like that) and a computer backdrop to simulate a sun-drenched selfie.

The survey, admittedly, wasn't all bad news – the majority of respondents said they felt 'amused' by what they saw, or felt better connected to their friends.

But, worryingly, a third felt lonely when faced with pages of personal outpourings. And almost half felt ugly, or unattractive.

In fact, around half of respondents also admitted they've been tempted to quit social media for good, but say it's too hard, because they want to stay in touch with pals.

The research was carried out by disability charity Scope ahead of their Digital Detox weekend, which encouraged people to commit to going tech-free for 48 hours.

By doing a sponsored switch-off, tech addicts got back in touch with life 'offline' and raised money for the charity.

Scope's weekend may be over, but if you think you or your family could benefit from a spell ditching all things digital, sponsored or not, there's nothing stopping you. Choose a weekend, a day, or even just a few hours, switch off and lock away all phones, computers, tablets and games consoles.

If you're staying at home, unplug your wi-fi and plan a day of good old-fashioned fun, uninterrupted by the ring of an iPhone, or ping of a BlackBerry.

Don't trust yourself not to cheat? The New Forest National Park has a solution.

Their Tech Creche (newforestnpa.gov.uk/techcreche) allows you to store your devices securely and get them back after a day exploring the park.

Finally, if you know you can't face a social media moratorium, but are still sick of all the show-off status updates, then remember this: in another survey, a third of Brits admitted to lying on a social network.

So perhaps there's a lot less to be jealous about than you think.

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