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Addiction to social networking sites reduces nurses’ performance and affects their ability to concentrate, according to a study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

“With the introduction of smartphones and launching 3G and 4G technologies around the world, of social networking sites (SNSs) addiction among nurses is becoming commonplace,” wrote the report authors.

An online survey taken by 461 nurses in 53 countries gauged nurses’ use SNSs, and their ability to focus on their work and task completion.

The survey was open from 13 August 2018 to 17 November 2018.

Most respondents were from Canada, followed by Australia, Nigeria, New Zealand, South Africa, the US and the UK.

The nurses were largely female, on average aged 30 years, with almost four years’ professional experience and 14 years of education.

The introduction of smart phones and 3G and 4G internet technologies meant addiction to SNSs such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was a growing problem among the general population.

“Like other segments of society, the trend has also been observed among nurses who are increasingly wasting their time and energy on SNSs instead of performing their duties. This has adversely affected their performance which is evident from the results of this research.”

The use of SNSs had a more destructive effect on the life-saving jobs like nurses and doctors, whose primary job responsibilities included patient care and treatment, they said.

“In short, nurses are the heart and soul of any healthcare system.

“SNSs addiction increases task distraction of nurses on one hand as they are unable to concentrate on their work, while on the other hand, it reduces their organisational performance.”

The health sector and especially nurses, already faced many challenges which affected their performance such as staff shortages, long shifts, low compensation, job hazards, discrimination, difficult working conditions, and family-work conflict.

The situation was even worse in public sector hospitals where nurses had to face unpredictable and inflexible working hours and heavy workloads.

However the researchers found if nurses were self-aware and could manage themselves, they could neutralise the bad effects of SNSs addiction on their performance.

“The study proves that self-management can reduce the negative impacts of SNSs addiction.”

The findings had important implications for hospital management, doctors and nurses, said the researchers, including limiting the use of SNSs by nurses and devising self-management courses for nursing staff.

“Management should provide nurses with an environment where there is no distraction like mobile ringtones and SNS applications’ beeps, so they can perform their duties more effectively, without any distraction which will improve their performance.”