Social media has firmly established itself in our daily lives. While it has its benefits, like staying in touch with friends & family, having easy access to information, and conducting business, to mention a few — it may also be addictive and harmful. With the widespread use of the internet and the increasing popularity of social media platforms, many people are finding themselves spending excessive amounts of time on these platforms and forgetting reality.
This addiction characterized by an obsessive use of social media platforms can have serious consequences, including neglecting important activities such as work, school, or personal relationships. This addiction lowers your productivity, leads to feelings of stress, anxiety & depression, reduces face-to-face social skills, and low self-esteem, and decreases sleep quality.
How does this happen if you ask?
Well, for one, social media platforms are designed to be addictive. They use algorithms that keep users engaged by constantly providing new content and notifications. Additionally, the social validation and recognition that comes from likes, comments, and followers can be highly addictive and create a feedback loop that encourages continuous usage.
However, there are a few things you can do to stop your addiction. By taking some of these steps, you can prevent yourself from becoming addicted to these platforms and regaining control over your life.
Establish boundaries: To prevent addiction, you need to establish some boundaries —set limits on the amount of time you spend on social media. Decide on the amount of time you want to spend on social media each day and stick to it. Use a timer or apps such as screen time tracking apps that track your usage to monitor how much time you spend on social media. Once you reach your time limit, put your phone away and do something else.
Use Purposefully: Use social media with intention and for a specific purpose such as finding information or connecting with friends. Avoid mindless scrolling and limit the time you spend on social media for entertainment purposes.
Reduce Notifications: Reducing the frequency of social media app notifications might help counter the urge to continuously check them. You can adjust your notification settings on your device or use an app to silence notifications during designated periods. For instance, on Instagram, you can use the “Quiet Mode” feature which allows you to focus on other things than the platform for a period of time.
Seek Professional Help: If you discover that you are unable to manage your social media usage on your own, seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. You can learn the underlying causes of your addiction and create coping mechanisms.
Take Regular Breaks: Regularly taking breaks from social media throughout the day can help you maintain a healthy relationship with it. For at least one day a week or set aside time to disconnect from your devices each day and find alternative activities that you will enjoy, such as pursuing a hobby, exercising, learning to play an instrument(s), perhaps reading a book/novel, playing video games, learning how to cook/bake, or watch movies, among others.
Physical Connect with People: Maintaining real-life relationships is important to prevent social media addiction. Make an effort to spend quality time with family and friends [again remember to have your phones far away from you same to the people you’re talking to], attend events, and engage in activities that you might enjoy together.
Be Mindful of Your Emotions: Social media may be an effective tool for connecting and communicating, but it can also be a cause of worry and anxiety. When using social media, be aware of your feelings and take a break if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Preventing social media addiction requires a conscious effort and setting boundaries for yourself. By following these tips, you can maintain a healthy relationship with social media and avoid the negative effects it can have on your life.