Updated 2 months, 1 week ago

Facebook use may alter perception of time, study finds

When perusing Facebook, time seems to cruise on by. Just a minute or two seems to gain momentum that’s difficult to stop.

Now, researchers have found that browsing the Internet or Facebook may distort our perception of time, with the latter having the biggest impact.

Thanks to smartphones and tablets, access to the Internet is at our fingertips. This has its benefits, allowing us to check e-mails on the go or search for directions, for example. However, there are downfalls to this modern convenience.

The conclusion of the newest study was derived from running 44 participants through a test. The researchers would show the subjects images at different lengths of time, and the subjects would have to report back the time spent viewing. They’d see 20 images: five Facebook related, five internet related and ten generic ‘control’ images.

The researchers found that participants were more likely to underestimate the amount of time spent viewing Internet- and Facebook-related images, compared with when they viewed the control images. Facebook-related images were associated with the greatest distortion in time perception.

This suggests that Facebook-related images affect time by changing how we pay attention to them.

Health and community psychologist Marny Lishman isn't surprised by these findings. She says spending time on Facebook stimulates our brain and releases the feel-good hormone, dopamine.

Our brains then get used to that amount of "checking", so we need to indulge in more of the same behaviour to reach that level of arousal. "So the more we do it, the more we end up doing it."

The findings are likely to have implications for future study into addictive behaviour, the team say.

'Even though there is a wealth of research on addiction and implicit measures, the effects of addiction on time perception are still unclear.'

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