ICYMI: Is social media impacting social interactions and school work?

 ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) - It's no secret, social media is changing the way we interact with each other but are some companies taking advantage of that? 

"Oh absolutely it is very distracting," said Lori Lamantia.

We've all heard the phrase, "put your money where your mouth is."

"There are billion dollar companies with huge investments in capturing the limited attention that we all have and have always had," said Dr.  Robert McKelvain, a psychology professor at Abilene Christian University.

Dr. McKelvain says the money is where your attention is.

"Social media companies insinuative is for us to log on, stay on, and see as many ads as possible," said Dr. McKelvain.

Both our money and attention are on social media.

"Nothing they do they do not do without their phone in front of them," said Lamantia.

"We don't take control of our time they will use our time to make money," said Dr. McKelvain.

Dr. McKelvain says some people might be unaware of how these companies are playing into our attention spans. 

"Students said they were distracted once for every fifty times that the tv monitor showed that they were distracted so we are very very unaware of just how much media attracts our attention while we are doing other things," said Dr. McKelvain.

There was a study done at the University of Texas at Austin, where researchers put studying students in three scenarios, with phones on the table, in their bag or in another room.

"When you are working on a complete thinking task having your phone next to you, even when it is on silent and face down affects your effective thinking ability," said Dr. McKelvain.

The group with their cellphones in the other room scored higher than the other two groups.

"Our attention span and what we can learn is limited by the amount of working memory we have and our working memory is actually very very small," said Dr. McKelvain.

That tiny amount of memory can even be taken up by people surrounding us.

"If you imagine the V-shaped group of all the students who are sitting behind them they will also score lower on the test because that persons use of social media is distracting to them as well," said Dr. McKelvain.

He says the distractions may not be 100% your fault but you are capable of controlling how much time you spend on your phones and social media.

"I really think it comes down to people being conscious with it," said Lamantia.

An easy test to see if devices and social media are affecting your life is can you put away your phone for 20 minutes without feeling anxious or that you are missing out. For example, try putting your phone away at the dinner table. This will help with the quality of the conversation.


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