We have talked about the way in which social media has changed our lives before, but here are some facts that show, in a more scientific way, the impact social networking is having on people.

According to a study published on Online College Course website, the average Facebook user spends 405 minutes on the site every month, which adds up to 81 hours per year. Currently there are more than one billion people on Facebook and 555 million on Twitter. When people were asked what aspects of their everyday life they would find the most difficult to do without, many found social media to be harder to resist than smoking, drinking, spending money, sleeping and having sex.

A possible explanation of this addiction to social sites is the fact that posting on social media stimulates the same brain areas as food and sex do, suggesting that it follows the same dopamine pathways, leading to a feeling of euphoria and motivation to do it again.

What makes us so willing to post on such sites is that they are focusing on ourselves – our likes, our feelings, our thoughts. People are willing to be the centre of attention and to share their opinions. This is confirmed by a study, in which respondents were paid money for answering questions. Questions that referred to themselves had lower value than other questions, but respondents sacrificed up to 25% of their earnings to answer those that referred to them.

Not surprisingly, social media is of greatest value to young people, with more than half of those polled claiming they would not start a job that bans their social media access.