I’ve believed this for quite a while…with qualifications. The reason stated is that taking quick breaks to scan Facebook and Twitter rests the mind, raising the total net focus time while working.
Two qualifiers here: First, this isn’t true just for social media, but nearly any break activity. Second, this isn’t true for those with internet addiction. The study only looked at people who browsed the web for 20% or less of their work hours. Put the two together and we can assume break activities collectively should probably fall under that 20%.
I’ve mentioned this two-edged sword before for remote workers. In an increasingly boxed-off world, it’s easy to neglect “sharpening the saw”–that is, giving the mind breaks so that it can accomplish more. Even co-located workers can be “boxed off” because our digital communication tools allow us to work even when taking a coffee break. Often we need to have taking breaks enforced! And if web-browsing, game playing, etc., is the most convenient way to get that brain reset, then so be it.
Just don’t forget to keep it below 20% of your time. No, seriously. Stop reading this now and get back to work! ;)