Is Social Media Causing American Workers to be Less Productive?

First, let me qualify this blog by saying that I manage an opinion portal, www.boomeropinion.com, which is in reality a social media site. We provide polls, discussions and articles on issues facing America and Baby Boomers. We encourage Boomers to visit our site daily so they can weigh in and discuss the critical issues of the day.

I should also mention that I use Twitter, but only for business purposes. I post the latest polls and discussion topics on my company’s Twitter page. I use Facebook to keep up with my friends, relatives and children. After much persuasion, I got my wife to join Facebook and I haven’t seen her since. And I use Linkedin to network with people around the world and to promote my businesses.  

That said, I find that a good chunk of my time is taken up by these sites. Could I be more productive if I didn’t fall prey to these sites? Absolutely. Is social media just a new form of crack? Quite possibly. Are large numbers of Americans wasting work hours perusing these sites? I am sure that is true.

It should be obvious to every American the loss of attention caused by Twitterers across the country. Remember when the President made his first State of the Union speech last year? As the network cameras panned the audience, you could see numerous Congressmen and Senators sending out tweets on their smart phones. How intently can you listen to a speech if you are otherwise occupied tweeting?

A 2008 Study in Britain concluded that workers in that country typically lose 12 hours of work a week logging onto social media sites. That’s over 25% of their time at work. If your typical American office workers are sitting at their computers tweeting about what they had for lunch or checking out the latest posts on their Facebook wall, how productive can they be during those periods. How much work are they not getting done each week?

Social media has a number of very positive benefits. Documenting protests and clashes between protestors and police or soldiers in parts of the world where network coverage is not available or not allowed. Documenting major weather events and other catastrophes in remote areas around the world is another benefit social media has brought to the table.

Instantaneous movie, restaurant and concert reviews are becoming the norm. Keeping close touch with relatives or friends in far away places, as well as keeping in touch with relatives or friends who live across town. Synching schedules or inviting people to special events is yet another benefit.

Some companies have initiated firewalls and/or filters to keep employees off social media sites and focused on the job at hand. Other companies have written policies against social networking during business hours. Without technical blocks, policing the usage of social media particularly given the new smart phone technologies will be hard to do for most companies.

There is no doubt that social networking and social media is here to stay, so what can be done to ensure that it doesn’t distract the American worker to such an extent that it significantly impacts our national productivity? What do you think? We want to hear your thoughts on this topic. And if you respond from your office computer, just make sure you have completed your work for the day.

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven’t joined our community,www.boomeropinion.com, please consider it. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And if we recruit enough of you, we can positively impact business and political policies around the country.

  2 comments for “Is Social Media Causing American Workers to be Less Productive?

  1. January 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Hello Mac — I just asked a similar question on the new Social Media for the Blogger Group: “How do you manage your time on social media?” Already have a few responses. So if anyone wants to look at those results, it would mesh with what you’re trying to find out. No doubt social networks are great, but there is the danger of their taking over your life.

  2. January 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

    In the case of Twitter, my favorite Twitterers seem to me like intelligence/reconnaissance people behind enemy lines (in this case, behind lines in a “land” of subject-specific blogs/sites that I’d love to be able to peruse but can’t). These Twitterers are giving me constant updates (links or comments) and their insight on things that are of serious interest to me that I’d miss otherwise.

    Of course what is of interest to me dictates who I am going to follow. Good news is that people have a wide range of interests, so obviously a multitude of Twitterers might expect to have large followings and coexist successfully on the Twitter space.

    But, is everybody using Twitter really getting that kind of value out of it as a follower or followed? I’d hope so, but who knows?

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