Yesterday Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, took to the lectern at a Montreal business conference and said over-use of his micro-blogging site is bad for your health.
“I like the kind of engagement where you go to the website and you leave because you’ve found what you are looking for or you found something very interesting and you learned something…”
Although it may be the first time a social media innovator has spoken out, the concerns themselves are not new.
Last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle published a book called Alone Together, in which she argued that technology is threatening to make us less human and more isolated.
In 2009, Dr Aric Sigman went a little further when he said choosing social networking (SN) over face-to-face interaction has a profound biological impact – and could upset immune responses and mental performance.
There can be no denying that obsessive SN, to the detriment of real-life socialising, is never a good thing. But social media can enhance well-being if used intelligently. Don’t just take it from me.
A 2010 report from Pew Internet and American Life Project found
“having a chronic disease increases the probability that someone will take advantage of social media to share what they know and learn from their peers.”
In other words, social media plays a vital role in connecting people and allaying loneliness. It can also break down barriers.
Last year Larry Rosen, a prof of psychology at California State University, while acknowledging the negative impact of overuse, said that SN can help introverted adolescents.
Digital tools also provide rich opportunities to democratise and disseminate health information. Only this week the Department of Health unveiled an initiative to encourage patients with long-term conditions to use smartphone apps to manage their health.
It’s all a question of balance isn’t it? Just as health bods say a little of what you fancy is good for you dietary-wise, so too the same is true of SN.
You can follow me on Twitter (which I use in moderation, thanks for asking) here