More than half of regular social media users say they're using it less this year

18 March 2019 3 min. read
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A recent survey from communication and market research firm Regina Corso Consulting probed US adults about their social media usage and viewpoints. Of the sample, 55% of regular users said they are spending less time on social media compared to last year.

The survey, which in January asked 2,141 US adults (aged over 18), found that 86% of Americans are regular users (at least one to two times per week) of at least one social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies have pointed out the ills of social media use on society: it increases feelings of loneliness, lowers self-esteem, and generally reduces life satisfaction, regardless of geographic location, gender, race, or ethnicity. Other negative effects include the creation of echo chambers and reinforcing mechanisms for radicalization. Increased social media use also makes teens more likely to experience cyberbullying.

Social media feeds also have the potential to sway democratic elections ( Russian-based trolling activities in the 2016 presidential election, for example) or to help incite genocide, as in the case of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. A lackadaisical attitude toward user privacy is also apparent in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which personal data was scraped from not only users who utilized an app, but also their whole friend list.

Over half of regular social media users say they're using it less this year

These occurrences to an extent seem to have impacted the social media views and usage of Americans. Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by Regina Corso, as well as 67% of those identifying as regular social media users, said that social media is making people lonelier. Millennials and Gen X-ers were especially likely to believe so, at 74% and 70%, respectively.

Meanwhile, 76% of US adults and regular social media users said that one of the problems related to social media is that people “cannot focus on things for a long time any longer.”

Survey respondents also weren’t very optimistic about the prospect of maintaining user privacy on social media platforms. Sixty-five percent of Americans and 63% of regular users said people on social media shouldn’t have any expectations of privacy.

Perhaps noticing some of the negative aspects of social media, 55% of regular users responded that they were using social media “a lot less” compared to last year, with 64% of millennials saying so.

Although 38% of regular users say they would like to stop using social media, they are afraid of missing out. The fear of missing out ("FOMO") factor was strongest in the Gen Z demographic (49%) and millennials (52%).

Nonetheless, respondents in the Regina Corso survey highlighted a number of positive aspects of social media. Of regular users, 76% said social media was a great way to connect with brands and companies, while 51% said their real-life social network had expanded because of their social media network. Sixty-one percent of US adults and 66% of regular users said the positive aspects of social media outweigh the negatives.