Australians have been urged to "tweet or compete" at Rio 2016 ©AFP/Getty Images

Australian athletes have been urged to "tweet or compete" at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in order to avoid any distractions from competition during the Games.

The country's disappointing overall performance at London 2012 has been partly attributed to excessive social media use, as well as other aspects including alcohol consumption.

A 2013 review cited Twitter when claiming that a "toxic culture" hindered the swimming team in the British capital. 

The hashtag “tweet or compete” is encouraging athletes to seriously consider whether they should engage in social media at the biggest competition of their careers, although the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) will ultimately let individuals make their own decisions.

“Our athletes in London didn’t understand, and we didn’t understand either, the dangers or the distraction," said Australian Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller.

"We were worried about what people might say [online], but we weren’t concerned about the distraction.

"We now know that.”

The issue was discussed at a briefing session in Sydney along with other issues, including doping and security. 

Hurdler Sally Pearson and sprint cyclist Anna Meares, two of Australia's gold medal winners at London 2012, claimed their decisions to turn-off all social media accounts on arrival at the Athletes' Village boosted their chances.

Swimmer Emily Seebohm, meanwhile, conceded her love of social media may have cost her a gold medal, admitting the influx of encouragement following her fast 100 metres backstroke heat almost had her believing she had won her final before it had begun.

She set an Olympic record of 58.23sec in the heat before finishing second behind United States' Missy Franklin in the final.

Swimmer Emily Seebohm had admitted that excessive tweeting harmed her chances at London 2012 ©Getty Images
Swimmer Emily Seebohm had admitted that excessive tweeting harmed her chances at London 2012 ©Getty Images

"I just felt like I didn’t really get off [social media] and get into my own mind," Seebohm admitted.

"I obviously needed to sign out of Twitter and logout of Facebook a lot sooner than I did.”

Not all athletes agreed, however, with BMX cycling champion Caroline Buchanan claiming Twitter and YouTube is part of her success routine.

She believes it has been part of her "daily environment" so she would like to continue it, but plans to compromise by employing someone she trusts to post photos and tweets to her account so fans can keep up to date while she is shielded from responses.

Australia finished 10th on the medals table at London 2012, winning seven gold, 16 silver and 12 bronze, their lowest total for 20 years. 

Swimming, traditionally one of Australia's strongest sports, only produced one gold medal.

Many athletes were criticised for drunkenness in an independent review and the men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay team was embroiled in a scandal after they took Stilnox, a sleeping pill banned by the AOC, as part of a team bonding exercise.

Another team member, rower Josh Booth, was detained by police for damaging shop windows after being out drinking following the final of the men's eight.

"Campaign Rio" has since been launched in a bid to return to the top five on the Olympic medals table.