Surfing internet, excess use of social media networks like Facebook can make you lose track of time

Facebook addicts, take note! Using the social networking site or surfing the web may impair your perception of time, warn researchers including one of Indian-origin. Using well-established internal clock models, researchers attempted to separate the roles of ‘attention’ and ‘arousal’ as drivers for time distortion. They found that Facebook-related stimuli can lead to an underestimate of time compared to general internet use, but that both lead to a distortion of time.

In the study, Lazaros Gonidis and Dinkar Sharma from the University of Kent in the UK monitored the responses of 44 people who were shown 20 images for varying amounts of time. Five of the images were associated with Facebook, five had more general internet associations with another ten as neutral ‘control’ images. Those taking part had to say whether the image they had just seen had been visible for a short or long time.

The key finding was that people tended to underestimate the time they had been looking at Facebook-related images to a greater extent than other more general internet related images, but that in both cases time was underestimated. This suggests that Facebook-related images affect time by changing how we pay attention to them. The findings are likely to have implications for future study into addictive behaviour. The study was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

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