Although the potential national ban of TikTok in the US is mainly due to privacy concerns, it is important to acknowledge the other risks it may pose. While social media apps are known to negatively impact mental health outcomes, less is known about their effect on cognitive abilities.
How Social Media Companies Track Your Attention and Keep You Hooked
Social media companies are designed to keep us entertained and constantly track the content we engage with to present us with related content, keeping us on their platform for as long as possible. Endless scrolling features and flow states that engage users in the app make it more difficult for them to leave the platform.
People typically multitask throughout the day, alternating between work-related activities and using social networking platforms. However, task switching has negative effects on cognitive abilities, and every time a person opens social media while working, they will be slower and more error-prone for a period of time when getting back to work.
Social media addiction, as determined by a questionnaire measuring its impact on mood, withdrawal, and negative effects on different areas of life, may impact impulsivity, making users more prone to risky choices associated with long-term losses. However, individuals with social media addiction generally function normally on many other cognitive assessment tasks.
Cognitive Benefits and Risks of Social Media Use
Social media use may have cognitive benefits for middle-aged and older adults who are at risk of cognitive decline due to social isolation or loneliness. It provides an increased access to social connection, which offers a support channel.
Although there is limited research on the impact of social media use on attention, one study found that hashtags spend less time on the top charts over the years, possibly reflecting a decrease in attention span.
Thus, it is best to block off time for work, avoiding task-switching, and using social media mindfully to avoid negative effects on cognitive abilities. It is essential to recognize that social networking companies are designed to keep us hooked and that our attention is constantly being tracked. By limiting our use of social media, we can protect our cognitive abilities and ensure that they are functioning at their best.
Using Spiritual Wisdom to Improve Personal Growth and Technology Use: Insights from the Bible
I believe that incorporating spiritual wisdom can provide a solid foundation for personal growth and development. The Bible, in particular, offers guidance on various aspects of life, including our use of technology and its impact on our cognitive abilities.
In 1 Corinthians 10:23, we read, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” This verse reminds us that while we may have the freedom to use social media and other forms of technology, we should consider whether they are truly helpful and constructive in our lives.
Similarly, in Philippians 4:8, we are encouraged to focus on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. This verse can serve as a guide for how we engage with social media and other forms of technology. Instead of mindlessly scrolling through content that may not be edifying, we can intentionally seek out content that aligns with these virtues.
Proverbs 4:23 also speaks to the importance of guarding our hearts and minds. It says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” We should be mindful of the content we consume on social media and how it may impact our thoughts and emotions. Just as we would protect our physical health by being cautious about what we eat, we should also take care to protect our mental health by being mindful of what we consume through technology.
Additionally, in Colossians 3:2, we are encouraged to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. While social media can offer a lot of distractions and temptations to focus on worldly things, this verse reminds us to prioritize our spiritual growth and focus on the things that truly matter.
Overall, the Bible offers timeless wisdom that can be applied to various aspects of our lives, including our use of technology. By incorporating these principles into our daily lives, we can approach technology with a discerning and mindful attitude, which can ultimately benefit our cognitive abilities and overall well-being.
If you feel like you struggle with social media or other dependencies, feel free to reach out to us. We offer individual counseling for dependencies to social media.