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Lily Allen says she spends five hours a day on Twitter

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Pop star Lily Allen has admitted she spends around five hours a day on Twitter.

The singer – who has more than 5.9m Twitter followers – said she has a “love-hate relationship” with the social media platform, adding it is “way too much time”.

Appearing on Channel 4 show Sunday Brunch, Allen said she uses the site to find out news and speak to her fans.

“I find so much from there,” she said. “It’s not all just ‘self’.”

Allen, 33, was a guest on the Sunday chat and cookery show to promote her new album No Shame when the conversation turned to social media.

The performer was one of the first singers to use publicity from social media to help her career, after publicity generated around her music on MySpace helped lead to her debut single Smile.

She is a regular tweeter, and has been involved in online spats with high-profile figures including former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson and more recently, broadcaster Piers Morgan.

Asked by host Tim Lovejoy if she enjoyed being on Twitter, Allen said: “It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. I spend way too much time on there, like five hours a day or something?

“It’s where I get most of my news from, it’s where I converse with my fans, it’s where I read about other artists.

“I find so much from there. It’s not all just ‘self’.”

She said she was “more worried about Instagram” for her two daughters Ethel, 6 and Marine, 5, because the platform is “so much about visuals, body image and stuff like that”.

Allen added: “Their relationship with social media is when they watch me just refreshing. They ask ‘what are you doing?’

“I’m like ‘just work’ and they say ‘oh yeah, because you have to get people to like you!'”

How much social media is too much?

According to one piece of research, young people who spend more than two hours a day on social media sites are more likely to report poor mental health.

But a study in 2017 found that – up to a certain point – digital screen time improves mental well-being.

One of the study’s authors Andrew Przybylski from the University of Oxford, told BBC Future that it does not start getting disruptive “until you start going to five, six, seven hours a day”.

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Researcher Mark Griffiths, from Nottingham Trent University, has been investigating internet addictions and the excessive use of sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He told BBC Future that he does think “it can be potentially addictive”.

Social media addiction comes with all the behavioural signals usually associated with chemical addictions like mood changes or social withdrawal, he said.

But it is difficult to define how much time is damaging. Time spent online depends on the person and whether it affects things like their job or relationships.

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Some public health experts are calling for social media platforms to introduce a series of checks and measures, for example pop-ups warning people if they have used sites for a long time.

Apple recently announced a new addition for iOS 12 – a Time Limit feature which allows users to set a pre-determined limit on how much time they should spend using individual apps. Once the allowance is used up, an alert pops up.

In January, more than 100 child health experts wrote to Facebook asking them to withdraw an app aimed at under-13s, citing research which links social media use of between six and nine hours to higher levels of unhappiness.

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