Mental Health and Social Media

The Economist:

FACEBOOK users in America spend about 42 minutes a day on the social-media platform, according to eMarketer, a research firm. If Josh Hawley has his way, this figure will be capped at 30 minutes. On July 30th the junior senator from Missouri unveiled the “Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act”, or SMART Act. The bill would limit social-media usage to half an hour a day (users would be able to bypass the limit by adjusting their app settings). It would also ban addictive features, such as “infinite scroll” (when a user’s entire feed can be seen in one visit) and “autoplay” (when online videos load automatically one after another).

Mr Hawley’s proposal may not go down well with his constituents. A survey in January and February 2019 from the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank, found that 69% of American adults use Facebook; of these users, more than half visit the site “several times a day”. YouTube is even more popular, with 73% of adults saying they watch videos on the platform. For those aged 18 to 24, the figure is 90%. Instagram, a photo-sharing app, is used by 37% of adults. When Pew first conducted the survey in 2012, only a slim majority of Americans used Facebook. Fewer than one in ten had an Instagram account.