The rise of social media has allowed people to connect with others in previously unimaginable ways. However, this connectivity comes with strings attached.
To learn about the impact social media has had on the lives of consumers, The State of Critical Thinking 2021 survey, commissioned by research organization Reboot Foundation, revealed that even though many acknowledge the negative effects these platforms have on a person's mental health, over 70% admitted that they wouldn't permanently delete their social media accounts for anything less than $10,000.
Another 20% said it would take at least $1 million to delete their accounts, while over 4 in 10 (42%) would choose their social media accounts over their cars, TVs and pets.
Social media use has negative effect on mental health
A previous survey from Bright Horizons found that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused parents to worry about the mental health and well-being of their children, partners and themselves. According to Reboot's findings, social media use is only exacerbating these issues.
In addition to the over 60% of respondents who saw their social media use go up during the health crisis, the survey showed that:
- Around 50% of respondents spend more than two hours a day on social media
- 12% of respondents spend more than four hours a day on social media
And when asked whether they thought their social media use intensified their anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, loneliness and low self-esteem, over half of survey respondents believed those feelings were at least "somewhat" intensified by social media.
However, acknowledging these problems isn't enough to curb respondents from spending the amount of time that they do on social media. In fact, only about a third of users actively take steps to reduce their social media use.
Some of the tactics they employ include:
- Deleting or suspending their social media accounts
- Turning off their phones
- Limiting content on their feeds
That said, some have found that social media could also be used to help aid their mental health concerns: According to a ValuePenguin survey, 36% of respondents said they’ve found mental health resources through some form of social media, including therapist videos on YouTube (18%) and TikTok (11%).
Respondents agree on importance of critical thinking skills
Perhaps one reason why social media users are reluctant to reduce the amount of time they spend on these apps is because of the wealth of information these platforms seem to offer. For instance:
- About 50% of respondents believe social media has been at least "somewhat" helpful in the way they think about today's issues
- 46% of respondents have "somewhat increased" the diversity of the news they consume
- 38% of respondents say they engage more deeply with social and political issues due to social media
However, misinformation is rampant online, suggesting a greater need to employ critical thinking skills while using social media. So as a research organization focused on "elevating critical thinking," the Reboot Foundation survey also asked respondents questions about their critical thinking skills and critical thinking education.
It found that an overwhelming majority (95%) believe critical thinking to be "extremely" or "very important," but that 85% feel that the general public lacks these skills. Interestingly, however, only about 50% of respondents thought their critical thinking skills have improved since their high school days — in contrast, nearly 16% say those skills have deteriorated for them.
The importance of critical thinking in everyday life, and the possibility that others may be lacking in this department, may be why 95% of respondents agree that critical thinking courses should be a requirement from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Methodology: The Reboot Foundation's survey gathered data from 1,010 US adults (ages 18 to 78) between March 3 and March 14, 2021, using Amazon's Mechanical Turk.