Study Shows Scrolling Through Facebook Changes Your Perception of Time

This is why an hour on social media can feel like a few minutes.

Ever spent what you thought was a 5-minute break scrolling through your newsfeed only to realize — horrifyingly — it’s actually been much longer? It might be because looking at Facebook, and the web more broadly, alters our perception of time, according to new research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Researchers showed 44 people 20 images for different amounts of time. Five of the images were Facebook-related, five were generally Internet-related and the remaining ten images were neutral. Participants underestimated the amount of time they spent looking at any web-related image compared to a neutral one but the effect was most pronounced for Facebook-specific images.

It’s a small study, but the findings probably ring true for anyone who’s gone down a social media black-hole before. Plus, we could all use a reminder to be more mindful of how much time we’re really spending in front of our screens.