We are living in an era of technology. While yes we are witnessing things that are amazing, there are also downsides to the technology. A team of researchers at Michigan State University worked to ascertain if there is more to social media attention than the casual joking that we attribute to it. The paper is titled ‘Excessive social media users demonstrate impaired decision making in the Iowa Gambling Task’ and has been published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. According to this research paper, people that use social media sites heavily; have behavioral hallmarks similar to someone that is addicted to heroin or cocaine.
The study included 71 participants who were asked to rate their Facebook usage with a measure that is known as the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. The subjects of the study were then asked to complete the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The Iowa Gambling Task is a research tool that is used for evaluation of impaired decision making. It presents four virtual decks of cards to the participants with punishments or rewards and asks them for maximizing the virtual winnings. The study explains, ‘Participants are also informed that some decks are better than others and that if they want to do well, they should avoid the bad decks and choose cards from the good decks.’
The results reveal that the study participants that were excessive Facebook users performed worse when compared with their peers on the Iowa Gambling Task. This portion of the participants relied on the two ‘bad’ decks that provided them with immediate gains however ultimately resulted in losses. The participants that were not excessive Facebook users performed better in the IGT.
The Iowa Gambling Task has been used for evaluating various patients including the ones with lobe brain injuries to the addicts. However, this is the first time that it has been used for studying the social media addicts. The study is narrow, that is a given, however; provides for a fresh path for follow-up research. The researchers have remarked that they could also carry out observation of the social media usage and sort the participants in categories of high or low social media usage depending upon the behavior rather than the survey form that the participants fill.
What this stud proves is that the researchers are looking into how social media is affecting our behavior and brains. We suggest that you remember the golden rule; excess of anything is bad!