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Prince Harry says people spend too much time online

Social media is dangerously addictive, and the young Royal is concerned it’s causing mental fatigue.

Prince Harry wants you to put down your phone and talk to the person beside you. At a recent event in Copenhagen, while attending a mental health charity event, Harry said the amount of time people spend on social media these days is “crazy and scary”:

“People are spending far too much time online and it’s like a mental running machine that they can’t get off. You wouldn’t put your body through such a workout. I’m the last person to say ‘ban it’ but people are suffering from mental fatigue and getting burnt out. We all need to talk to each other more.” (via Express)

These are wise words from the young Royal and something we all need to hear more of. That social media is addictive should come as no surprise. As Julian Brault wrote for Medium last year, the companies that create the technology we love so much are incredibly savvy at keeping us online and leading us to click on ads, generating income.

“Tech companies use cues from psychology, neurosciences and behavioural economics to trick your brain into spending more money. And it works.”

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A short YouTube video (shown at bottom of page) made by Asap Science gives a brief overview of the real changes to the human brain when we spend too much time on social media. A few of the alarming points it mentions:

1. A small percentage of people are incapable of logging off. They are truly addicted to social media. Studies have found clear degradation of white matter in the regions of the brain that control emotional processing, attention, and decision-making. How scary is that?

2. It inhibits one’s ability to multi-task. Despite feeling like you’re accomplishing a lot by switching back and forth between websites and social media accounts, researchers have found that heavy media users perform worse during task-switching exercises. It makes it harder to filter out interferences and difficult to memorize things.

3. Media users struggle with phantom vibration syndrome. Eighty percent of people say they think they feel their phones go off at least once every two weeks.

4. Social media makes people highly self-absorbed. While 30 to 40 percent of face-to-face conversations revolve around oneself, that number increases to 80 percent in the social media world. This triggers a dopamine rush, so your body is rewarding itself physiologically for talking about yourself.

All this is to say, listen to the Prince! He has solid advice. Give your brain and body a rest by putting the phone away. Live in the moment; notice what’s going on around you; and look someone in the eyes while having a real-life conversation.

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