Pinterest 'Addiction' Grows, Decreases Productivity

Hot Social Media Site Easy To Use, Easy to Lose Time On

Pinterest may be the hottest social media site since Facebook, but a growing number of women are openly professing an addiction. Is pinning simply another tool for lost productivity?

For Victoria Cook, Pinterest is a place where dreams become reality.

"I don't cook, but I have this fantasy world where I'm Martha Stewart," she said with a laugh. “And I’m a super commitment-phobe, and yet I have all these wedding pictures.”

Every day, Cook logs into the time-sucking world of virtual bulletin boards to pin pictures of fashion, food and fantasy.

“You're just sitting there looking, and before you know it two hours have passed and you're like, what did I do just now?" said Cook.

She is part of a growing group openly professing Pinterest “addiction,” mostly women, especially college students.

"In class, it gets really frustrating because if you have your computer up,it's real easy just to zone off (on Pinterest) and not do your work," said Kaitlyn Shafner, a student at the University of Denver.

Just how major is this social media trend? A recent study by Sharaholic showed Pinterest drove more referral traffic last month than Google plus, Youtube and Linkedin combined.

On Pinterest, there are even boards dedicated to the addiction, featuring inspirational messages such as “No time to sleep. I must pin some more.”

"Oh, absolutely I can see it being addictive," said Stephanie Brooks, a director of marketing at the University of Denver’s Daniels School of Business.

Brooks said unlike other social media sites, Pinterest requires an invitation to join or you have to wait.

"So, they have built this false sense of scarcity -- that there's this exclusive club that you want to be part of," said Brooks.

Pinterest interest, though, is primarily driven by how easy it is to use. Once you install the “Pin It” bookmark, users don’t even have to be on the site to put any picture they want on their board.

Brooks compares it to a visual Twitter.

"There are a lot of people out there who feeling like they just don't have the time to blog or the creativity or the wittiness to blog," said Brooks. "Pinterest allow you to have that sense of creativity without having to write lengthy entries."

Shaunese Cradle, a graduate student at the University of Denver, admits that she is hooked on the feeling she gets when someone “likes" her pins, which she spends a lot of time finding.

"It's a little embarrassing, but I spend probably around two to three hours a day on Pinterest,” said Cradle.

Like many “addicts”, she said what started with a professional interest quickly became a source of procrastination and lost productivity.

"Now, it's getting to the point where, ‘OK, finish the homework, finish the cleaning, get home and then you can get on,’” said Cradle.”So it's now a treat for me."

Delayed gratification may be the key to controlling Pinterest, Brooks said.

"Set time limits and then stick with them,” said Brooks. “You really have to be diligent about any time you spend online, because being online itself is very addicting."

Cook said that Pinterest may make time magically disappear, but it’s also the place that inspired her necklace, homemade Larabars and her next vacation. Thanks to Pinterest, she said, some dreams really do come true.

"It can be really helpful and useful,” said Cook. “You just have to be mindful of the time you spend on it."

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