Boredom linked to social media overload and fatigue

By Sharon Dolan D’Arcy

Boredom is linked to social media overload and fatigue, according to a new study that was carried out by NUI Galway.

The study by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics has examined the problem of social media overload, which is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the amount of communication and information a person is exposed to through social media channels.

The research, which was published in Internet Research, specifically focused on identifying the causes of social media overload amongst users, and how it affects their energy levels.

Galway academics found that the more prone to feeling bored a social media user is, the more likely it is they will feel overloaded by social media content. They also found that users who report higher levels of social media overload are more fatigued on a day-to-day basis.

However, this level of fatigue depends on what the person uses social media for. Using social media as an information source, for example accessing news stories through Facebook and Twitter, amplifies the effects of overload on fatigue levels.

In contrast, using platforms liked Snapchat and WhatsApp to communicate with friends and family actually diminishes fatigue levels, even when a person is feeling overloaded. 

Lead author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems at NUI Galway, said:

“The use of social media is pervasive across the globe with Facebook alone having 2.7 billion monthly users. While social media undoubtedly provides many advantages to users, researchers are now more closely scrutinising the problematic effects of platforms such as Facebook.”

Dr Whelan said the study concludes that social media users who are prone to boredom, are more likely to be overloaded by content online, which in turn negatively affects energy levels. However, fatigue was found to be more likely amongst those who use social media as a source of information.

“Using social media for communication purposes acts as a coping mechanism, enabling users to maintain energy levels even when experiencing overload. Therefore, users need to consider not just the amount of social media they expose themselves to, but also how they use these technologies, if they wish to avoid exhaustion,” he said.

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