It is important for us to distinguish between using social media for business or personal use. If someone spends most of their time after work scrolling through Facebook or Twitter, it is up to them to judge whether or not that time is wasted. However, if they spend time during their workday on personal social media to pass the time, or have private conversations, that almost certainly is time wasted if there is something else they ought to be doing.
Of course, there can be a bit of a grey area between personal social media use and work-related networking or ‘fact-finding’ missions. But, if someone feels the need to make an excuse for why they have been spending work hours on their personal social media, they probably were wasting time.
Even time management software can be a waste of time: some people spend more time organizing and sprucing up their to-do lists than completing the tasks on the list.
If the question was ‘Do people waste time on social media?’ the answer would certainly be a resounding yes. But this problem is not unique to social media. There are few if any, technologies, activities, or tools that you can provide people without them finding a way to waste time with it. Give the right person the right distraction, and you’ll never hear from them again. Even time management software can be a waste of time: some people spend more time organizing and sprucing up their to-do lists than completing the tasks on the list.
People can waste time on social media at work, or anywhere at any time with the help of a smartphone with an internet connection. People can waste time watching TV, in the break room, on their phones. Even without any external distractions, employees can spend their time daydreaming instead of working.
There is nothing wrong with switching off from work – it is great to be able to when the time is appropriate and people will choose their own distractions and decide for themselves whether or not these are a good or bad use of time. However, when viewed within the context of productivity and work performance you may be compelled to reach a different conclusion.