Does Social Media Hinder Analytical Thinking?

Monday, March 24, 2014, 11:22 AM


With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites available at our fingertips, our time and productivity in the office are being overtaken. But are these social media sites hampering your intelligence? Research by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface suggests that this may be the case.

In the research, 100 volunteers were asked a series of questions. These volunteers were divided into five social network patterns. One group was connected directly to everyone else in the group, another group was not connected at all, and the other groups had different connectivity to each other.

The results of this research were that the better connected volunteers answered more questions correctly. However, it was because they were mimicking their counterparts, rather than presenting original opinions. states, “The researchers found that in well connected networks volunteers… got better at giving the right answer the more times they were asked and the more opportunities they had to steal their neighbors’ answers. This result showed that when the students had lots of connections to peers they could recognize where they had given a wrong answer and swap it for the right one.”

After finding this, the researchers tested the volunteers’ ability to answer the questions originally. When asked new questions, those that had copied did not improve from the previous question, even when they knew that the questions required deeper thought.

This test showed that as a whole, the well connected groups were able to spread analytical responses quickly and improve their decision-making skills. However, the results for the individual volunteers showed that being well-connected weakened your analytical skills because you never have to think about the problem at hand.

While there are benefits in using social media, it may be good to get away from social media sometimes and do other productive things-especially in the workplace. Net Nanny can help monitor time spent online as well as report suspicious or dangerous activity.