Social media studies show it may make people socially awkward

Social Media vs. Real Life
(Source: WFIE)
(Source: WFIE)
(Source: WFIE)
(Source: WFIE)

(KAIT) - It may be easy to spend hours a day on social media but experts believe all that time could be making people more socially awkward.

The latest research showed an average American will check social media 17 times a day, which adds up to about 3 hours.

Keegan Dunville spent his time at a coffee shop and said social media is a heavy distraction during the day.

"It tends to disrupt my work schedule," Dunville said. "Sometimes you lose hours - just cruising around on Instagram or Twitter."

Some like Brian Bennett found a way to make a living off social media.

He manages social media pages for various businesses in Evansville, Indiana.

Bennett's job may depend on the 3 hours a day usage but said it is changing how people interact with one another in the real world.

"My parents are 65 and my dad will send me messages on Facebook," Bennett said. "We don't talk anymore.  He'll message me stories about stuff and I'm like - "okay dad."  6 AM.  Bing!  It's like, "what are you DOING?"

Pew Research Center said half of people 65 and older use social media.

As the age bracket decreases, the usage numbers increase.

Many people are fine with using social media sites as a primary source of communication but Purdue University Communication Professor Dr. Glenn Sparks warned that it may be making us socially awkward.

He said social media creates an alternate reality with rules different from old fashioned face to face conversation.

To escape something on social media, you scroll but to escape something in real life you walk away.

"That may actually be habit forming and it's creeping into our face to face interactions in the public domain," Sparks said.

Sparks wrote a book on social media and its effects on society.

He advised small changes in habits could bring more joy from real life relationships and will also let you keep what you love about social media.

Below is a list of those changes.

-Talk to people around you in real life first.

-Do not look at your phone during down time or when you are alone.

-Practice small talk.

-Strike up a small conversation with someone next to you in a line. It keeps you from staring at your phone and gets you outside of your comfort zone.

-When you go to the movies or a restaurant, leave your phone in the car. You will focus more on those around you and not the notification you received on your phone.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

Watch Region 8 News On Demand: On your Desktop | On your Mobile device

Region 8 News App - Install or update on your: iPhone | Android