Social Media in Sport

Social media has a large presence in society today. In the sports world, many professional athletes and teams utilize social media for marketing and connecting with fans. Recently, the NBA has been singled out as the league most involved with social media, to the point of concern about social media “addiction” (https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2798257). Although social media use is widely accepted and promoted among athletes and sport organizations, it also has a few drawbacks. Constant social media use can become a distraction to performance and interfere with day-to-day team interactions. For example, if athletes are immersed in social media and obsessed with checking their phones while in the locker room before team practices and games, they are missing out on important interpersonal interactions with teammates, which can ultimately impact the cohesion and performance of the team. The ease of access to social media with smart phones lends itself to constant checking behaviors, which can become habitual and interfere with many activities in life, including sport performance. Other examples of areas negatively impacted from excessive use of social media include relationships, sleep, driving safety, productivity, and overall well-being. Tips for athletes and individuals looking to prevent some of the negative side effects associated with overuse of social media include turning off your phone and social media apps during specific social situations (e.g., team practices and games, meals, etc.), turn off app push notifications while driving and before sleeping, limit how much time you spend daily on your phone, and limit the number of times you check social media each day. For more information on the impact of social media on mental health among athletes or to receive sport psychology services, please contact the UNT Center for Sport Psychology.