We may not want to admit it, but many of us have an addiction to social media.
Before you start shaking your head and denying it to yourself, answer the following questions:
- Is checking your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before going to sleep?
- Are you prioritising your social media use over interactions with people you care about?
- Do you find yourself instinctively reaching for your phone with no real purpose?
If so, then you have an addiction, and you’re not alone.
According to Social Media Today, teens are now spending up to nine hours a day on social media, which is a staggering amount.
It makes you wonder how they manage to get anything else done at all.
If you’re using social media too much, follow these tips to take control:
1. Understand that it’s not your Fault you’re addicted to Social Media
Having a social media addiction may sound like an embarrassing thing to have to admit to yourself, but it’s not only incredibly common, it’s exactly what social media is designed for.
All of the platforms we use are designed to suck us in, spending as much time as possible, and the content is now created to shock and get you clicking.
Social Media platforms are constantly developing new features in order to compete with each other.
Now there’s live videos, 360-degree photos and videos, and more and more individually-targeted content and advertising.
There’s always a new trend to keep users entertained. After Facebook started doing live videos, so did Instagram.
Once Snapchat stories caught on, Instagram and Facebook quickly jumped on the wagon, too.
Pretty soon, there’ll be something else more interesting and the cycle will start again.
2. Know Why you’re Addicted to Social Media
It’s easier to beat an addiction or compulsion to do something if you understand why you’re doing it. Using social media triggers a release of dopamine in the brain.
Dopamine is known as a ‘feel-good’ or ‘reward’ chemical, and for good reason.
A like, share or friend request gives us a little hit of that dopamine, which is why we feel excitement when we hear the ‘ping’ sound that notifications make.
3. Check your Priorities
What’s more important to you, the experience of what you’re posting or other people’s reactions to it? Are you posting something just to prove something, or as a way of seeking validation?
These are things we really need to stop and think about when we’re using social media.
It’s all too easy easy to mindlessly check, scroll and re-check, constantly switching between apps with no real purpose.
Sometimes we pick up our phones with the intention of looking for something, but get distracted and end up completely forgetting. It’s a complete waste of time.
4. Set a Time Limit on your Social Media use
You don’t have to stop posting altogether, but be mindful of how much time you invest in it.
Do you spend far too long poring over captions and comments, editing and re-editing before you post them?
Remind yourself that it doesn’t really matter and that finished is better than perfect.
If you spend more than five minutes like this, just hit the post button and be done with it. It’s not that important.
Besides, you can always go back and edit posts if you have to.
5. Delete or Unfollow
We’re all familiar with the concept of a Facebook cull, and while those certain friends who like to triumphantly announce to everyone that they’re about to do one are pretty annoying, they’ve got a point.
One of the things that keeps us on social media is the constant drama, and we all know the usual suspects on our friends lists who are always causing it.
The thing is, you don’t have to deal with them. You could delete them altogether, although if you’re worried that it’s too awkward (or if it’s a family member or someone close to you), just unfollow them.
That way, you don’t have to see their posts and therefore don’t waste time reading them or getting worked up about the drama that they cause.
It feels good to de-clutter, give it a try. Just don’t post about it, telling all your friends how grateful they should be that they made the cut.
6. Use an App
You could try deleting social media apps from your phone, or turning off the wifi/data during times when you want to avoid checking it, but you don’t have to go cold turkey like that.
Use an app such as Freedom to eliminate distractions. It sounds counter-productive to use an app to stop you checking other apps, but it really works.
Freedom blocks notifications from apps and prevents you from accessing websites that distract you.
You can schedule it to give you breaks at certain times, too.
7. Stop Comparing Yourself to Other People online
One of the downfalls of social media is that it has us all comparing our digital lives, even though what we post is almost always a polished, edited version of our reality.
Most of us post our holiday photos or our best-looking selfies, but not our lowest points.
This creates anxiety and self-doubt as we try to outdo each other.
When we see how great others appear to be doing, we start to question our own lives.
It’s difficult not to wonder if you’re failing at life when you see all your friends posting pictures of their weddings, children, house purchases and holidays, but that isn’t healthy.
It’s hard to do, because it sometimes seems like one of the main functions of social media, but we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. If we can do that, we won’t feel the need to look through other people’s photos or post about ourselves so much.
Social media isn’t completely evil, there are lots of great reasons to use it.
It’s the most convenient way to keep in touch with people all around the world, and if you’re a business owner, it gives you access to a huge reach, completely free of cost (unless you pay for advertising).
Just be aware of how much you’re using it, and if it’s for genuinely good reasons, and don’t let it disrupt the rest of your life.