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Losing Track of Time on Facebook? Psychologists show that it really happens

By Liya Fan

Swiping through screens, posting news feeds, clicking  “Like” buttons and other behaviour typical of social media use can distort your perception of time, a study by psychologists from the University of Kent has shown.

The study shed light on the effects of internet addiction on time perception. Focusing on arousal and attention, two factors that affect the accuracy of time perception, researchers found time perception differs from Facebook-related images to more general images.

The researchers showed  44 participants Facebook, internet and neutral control images for  images for varying duration of time.  After each image, the participants had to respond whether the image they had just seen had been visible for a short or long time.

The results, published in the latest Journal of Applied Social Psychology, indicated that both Facebook and the internet led to an underestimation of time, but that the distortion of time was worse for Facebook-related images, which suggested greater attentional resources were allocated to Facebook than internet images.

Lazaros Gonidis and Dinkar Sharma, researchers of the study, suggested  in the paper that Facebook images might prime a more concrete mindset than internet images, which led to the difference in attention resources taken.

The findings are expected to have implications for future study on internet addiction(IA). “In the case of IA, investigating time perception is even more important as one of the side-effects could be the time lost in the net,” they wrote .

Editor: Qiu Tian
Featured image: Photo by Eduardo Woo/ CC BY 4.0

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