NBC News file
Facebook users say among the top reasons they take a break from the social network are that they're too busy, weren't interested, or found it to be a waste of time.
By Suzanne Choney, TODAY.com Contributor
Many of us know Facebook users who are on the site seemingly 24/7, but we also know others who sometimes feel Facebook fatigue, and who have stepped away from the social network to clear their heads. Now a new study says that 61 percent of Facebook users say they've taken such breaks for several weeks or longer in the past.
Among the top reasons: Lives that are too busy and demanding, as well as information shared on Facebook that is sometimes too mundane and time-consuming (photos of lunch meals, or rants about celebs' comments or the clothes they wear, for instance).
"The largest group (21 percent) said that their 'Facebook vacation' was a result of being too busy with other demands or not having time to spend on the site," says the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in a new report, "Coming and Going on Facebook."
"Others pointed towards a general lack of interest in the site itself (10 percent mentioned this in one way or another), an absence of compelling content (10 percent), excessive gossip or 'drama' from their friends (9 percent), or concerns that they were spending too much time on the site and needed to take a break (8 percent)."
Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project
Pew heard a variety of comments from the 1,006 American adults surveyed via phone in December. Among the sentiments shared by those who took Facebook breaks:
- "I was tired of stupid comments"
- "I took a break when it got boring"
- "Too much drama"
- "You get burned out on it after a while"
- "People were (posting) what they had for dinner."
There were also some who said using the social network brought on problems. "I got harassed by someone from my past who looked me up," said one; "It caused problems in my (romantic) relationship," said another.
TODAY.com asked Facebook for comments about the Pew study, and received this emailed statement:
The fact is Facebook growth and engagement remain strong. As we announced last week, Facebook has grown daily active users across all regions, ending the year with more than 1 billion monthly active users, 618 million daily active users and 680 million people accessing Facebook from mobile devices. Our announcement came on the heels of independent analyst reports which concluded that Facebook is the most downloaded mobile app in the U.S., and that time spent on Facebook accounts for over 20 percent of all time spent on mobile apps in the U.S.
Pew says despite the "considerable fluidity" among users, 67 percent of online American adults use Facebook. That compares to 20 percent of online adults who say they used LinkedIn, and 16 percent who use Twitter, the research group says.
One in five of the online adults who were on Facebook, but aren't now, gave Pew some of the same reasons stated by the Facebook break-takers above, as well as comments like these: "I got tired of minding everybody else’s business" and "Takes my time away."
The 1,000 or so folks queried by Pew may not seem to be representative of Facebook's gargantuan reach. Facebook's monthly user base grew 25 percent from a year earlier to 1.06 billion accounts, and the site has 165 million users in the U.S.
Pew does note that 59 percent of the Facebook users surveyed said the site is "about as important to them as it was a year ago," and 53 percent said the amount of time they spend on Facebook has "stayed about the same over the past year."
But 28 percent said the site has become "less important" to them a year ago, and 34 percent said the amount of time they spent on Facebook has decreased over the past year. Another 12 percent say Facebook has become "more important" to them than it was a year ago, with 13 percent saying they've spent more time "liking" and posting over the past year.
While 69 percent say they will likely spend the same amount of time this year on Facebook as they did in 2012, and 3 percent will spend more time, 27 percent are looking to be on Facebook less.
Among the 27 percent may be this mom, who recently posted:
From the mouth of babes, indeed.
Four roommates who confess they're online "pretty much all day" make a pact to engage in a digital detox – two weeks without smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, and more. They tell TODAY's Natalie Morales it has made them "less dysfunctional."
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