Woman on social media on cell phone

Some consider social media to be a lifeline to the events of the world and the activities of family and friends. Others often become overwhelmed by the barrage of information, news, and opinions.

Celebrities John Legend and Selena Gomez take a break

This week, John Legend decided to step away from the toxicity of social media for the good of his mental health.  Selena Gomez also reports that she’s taking a break from social media due to all the “horror, hate, violence, and terror that’s going on in the world.”

The toll on mental health has come to the forefront with last week’s suit against Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, claiming features on its platforms target children and teens and are addictive.

While celebrities may experience a higher level of scrutiny and engagement on social media, mainstream Americans also appear to need periodic breaks from these platforms.

Twenty percent of Americans have taken a social media break of ‘over a month’

CivicScience examined the usage patterns for U.S. adults on social platforms from June to October 2023, and 20% say they’ve taken a break of ‘over a month.’ When we examined those who take breaks of this duration, Republicans scored slightly higher at 36% than Democrats (29%).

Fifty-one percent of respondents have taken a shorter break (lasting from one day to a week). And those in the 65+ age group are most likely to have ‘never’ taken a break from social media. Misinformation may be a factor, with 59% of respondents reporting they are ‘very concerned’ about the spread of misinformation on these platforms.

Tell us: When you watch your favorite shows on TV, do you also multitask on your phone or laptop?

The spell of social media lingers

Yet, even with the mental stress it may bring, social media still plays a role in our daily digital lives, with two-thirds of Americans spending time daily on platforms like TikTok, Meta, Instagram, and others. (326,647 poll responses from August 2022 to October 2023)

Thirty-nine percent report spending an hour or less daily with this habit.  Usage from super users (averaging 2+ hours per day) continues to climb (up by 3 pp from January 2021 to October 2023.). For Meta users, the top reason for usage (at 39%) is staying in touch with family and friends.

What do you think? During the last month, how frequently did you post on social media about politics?

The world remains unsettled and horrified with violent attacks on Gaza that began on October 7, 2023. The impact of these events will continue to reveal itself in how we interact with others on social media platforms and elsewhere.   

Take a look: More News and Insights from CivicScience.