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Poll: One in five cutting down on social media

A recent Yle poll suggests that Finland's residents have cut down a bit on their social media use, although young people in particular admit they find it very difficult.

Navinya Lee, Heli Rajamäki, Annastiina Raunio and Mari Rasimus snap a picture for Instagram in Helsinki's Kaivopuisto. Image: Markku Rantala / Yle

Post a photo on Instagram, update things on Facebook, send a quick message on WhatsApp and check Twitter for the latest. Keeping up with social media can take up a lot of time, and some people are getting tired of it. News that some of the data ends up in the wrong hands also presents a growing worry.

Finland's public broadcaster Yle commissioned a survey from the pollster Taloustutkimus in March of this year, and the results suggest that many residents of Finland are cutting back on their social media use. Over one-fifth (22 percent) of the respondents to the poll say they have intentionally reduced their social media use in the last year. A smaller percentage (16 percent) report that their overall usage has grown and the clear majority of 61 percent says their social media use has remained the same.

"Many users of social media feel as if it dictates too much of their time. It has become a bit like alcohol or drugs. The discussion surrounding information security has also been reflected in the service reduction," says Taloustutkimus' Juho Rahkonen.

Setting a good example

The poll specifically asked respondents about the time they spend on the popular social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp. Espoo resident Jenna Verainen has limited the time she spends on social media recently.

Jenna Verainen Image: Markku Rantala / Yle

"Largely because of the kids. I want to show them an example, that you don't have to be on your phone all the time," she says.

Verainen uses Instagram and Facebook on a daily basis, especially on her days off. She keeps track of what things are being sold on Facebook flea market groups and scrolls through the status updates of her friends.

"I'm such a curious person, I have to study what everyone has been up to during the day and what has happened with my friends," she says.

One in seven youth were unsuccessful

Not everyone who wants to shave their social media moments down has been successful. The Yle-commissioned poll found that one in seven young people had tried to cut back, but couldn't do it. This phenomenon was more common among the survey's female respondents than male.

Helsinki residents Teemu Otasalo and Madeleine Nousiainen both estimate that they spend about two hours on social media each day. They say it is hard to be sure about this, however, because the apps have become such an integral part of their lives. Otasalo spends most of his social media time on Instagram and Facebook.

Teemu Otasalo and Madeleine Nousiainen Image: Markku Rantala / Yle

"It's easy entertainment. You just have to scroll and it kills time. I want to know how my friends are doing and of course tell them a bit about my own life," he says.

85 percent use social media to maintain relationships

This upkeep of relationships with friends and family was the primary reason respondents to the Yle poll gave for their social media use. A full 85 percent cited it as their primary reason for using the apps. The next most important reason was a need to follow the news, at 57 percent. Third on the list, according to 47 percent of respondents, was their desire to upload photos to their accounts.

The Taloustutkimus survey relied on data from over one thousand respondents in Finland, leading to a margin of error of three points in either direction. Ages of the people participating in the poll ranged from 15 to 79.