Some worry it contributes to depression, short attention spans or low self-esteem. That it’s a time-suck, a distraction and a worrisome presence in their children’s lives. They’re torn between chasing the rush of “likes” and feeling guilty over time lost staring at a screen.
In a self-aware blog post published Friday, researchers at Facebook attempt to address those concerns. The post asks, “Is spending time on social media bad for us?”
It doesn’t answer the question, but the post says Facebook is concerned about the issue and is earnestly investing in research to learn more.
It also announced a feature it thinks might help: Facebook is rolling out a new 30-day “mute” button for people, pages and groups, which it says will give users more control over what they see. The people, pages and groups you mute will not be notified about the action.
Facebook also received criticism recently when it released a messaging app aimed at kids.
“We know that people are concerned about how technology affects our attention spans and relationships, as well as how it affects children in the long run,” said Facebook’s director of research David Ginsberg and research scientist Moira Burke in Friday’s post.
They cite studies that say social media can be detrimental to mental health, and the others that found say the opposite. The conclusion the authors come to is that social media itself isn’t good or bad, it’s how you use it that dictates its impact on your mental well-being.
Ginsberg and Burke add that Facebook will continue to research well-being and make new efforts to understand “digital distraction.” It will also put on a summit next year with academics and industry leaders to “tackle” these complex issues.