Do you think it’s weird that we are living in a world where “face time” refers to talking with someone through a screen? How about the reality that our identity, status, and values are dictated by how many followers we have on social media, how many likes or comments or shares our posts receive?
Fortunately or unfortunately, it has become hard to imagine a world without social media, let alone the devices that house it. In a March 2017 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers warned us about social media addiction.
The “need to be online may result in compulsive use of [social networking sites], which in extreme cases may result in symptoms and consequences traditionally associated with substance-related addictions. (1)
One of the scariest things about social media addiction is that people don’t know they are addicted. What’s worse, it’s a socially acceptable addiction.
Could You Have a Social Media Addiction?
Not sure if you or someone you know could have a social media addiction? Behavioural psychologist Dr. Mark Griffiths has outlined six questions to help you see whether or not you could be at risk of developing one: (2)
- Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
- Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
- Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
- Do you often try to reduce your use of social media without success?
- Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
- Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?
Although a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist are the only ones who can legitimately confirm such a diagnosis, it’s worth asking yourself: How many times a day do you mindlessly reach for your phone?
Have you ever heard that phantom “ding” or sworn that that was your phone buzzing? Don’t worry, most people reading this will be nodding their heads up and down. It’s healthy and necessary that we keep in control when we use social media.
For some people, they can’t live without social media. For others, social media has replaced their desire to want to have real life conversations. People have even created entire identities for themselves on social media.
There are many reasons for this, one of which may include FOMO (fear of missing out). According to Tarsha, FOMO is defined as: (3)
“The fears, worries, and anxieties people may have in relation to being in (or out of) touch with the events, experiences, and conversations happening across their extended social circles.”
There are many benefits of social media. However, when someone is at risk of being addicted to social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc, it is crucial that they overcome it. So, here are nine quick tips to help overcome social media addiction.
1) Sign Out of Your Accounts
Let’s get the most intense tip out the way first… The first thing we do after getting up is check our social media accounts and the last thing we do before going to bed is, you guessed it, checking social media. Is this a good way to begin and end your day? Probably not.
By signing out your accounts or removing certain social media apps from your phone, you will have to be creative in how you find information or connect with people. Like we said, this is a more extreme strategy. But if you’re up for the challenge, try it out! You may surprise yourself.
2) Curtail Your Screen Time
Restrict yourself to a daily social media time limit. By doing this, social media will become something to look forward to as opposed to something you habitually use. It will also help to fill your free time with other activities that will help you grow physically, mentally, or spiritually (e.g., do some brain exercises, do yoga , read a book , make a to-do list, set your goals etc).
3) Turn Off Your Push Notifications
Remember what we said about the phantom dings or buzzes? We’ve all been there. Go into your notification settings and turn off the ones for social media apps. Halting your notifications will enable you to concentrate more on your daily tasks. Not only will this create more time for you to engage with the real world, but you will become less of a slave to your phone in the process.
4 )Get Information the Old Fashioned Way
Although they aren’t as fast or efficient, libraries are a great way to discover new things. Google is amazing so we’re not saying to do away with it. But every once in a while, slow down and manually look for information. Phone calendars are also amazing, but try not making reminders for events. Instead, try writing things down and maintaining regular contact with relatives and friends. And, if you’re going to a family function or part with friends, take a digital camera with you instead of using social media apps to capture moments.
5) Set Some Group Rules
How can you have FOMO if you’re with the people you care about most? Next time you go out to a restaurant, for example, collectively agree to keep your phones in the middle of the table until the meal is finished. Making time for “face time” will help you know your friends and family more intimately.
6) High Technology Method
To combat social media addiction, install a program that controls or limits online spending time. Once the limit is reached, the program automatically blocks the access to social networks for until next day. There are some distraction and off-time apps which you can download from your phone’s app store.
7) Spend More Time with Family and Friends
Connect people outside social media. Join a club, plan meetings, and organize get togethers. Social media addiction actually steals quality time that you can be spending with your loved ones. Ask yourself who will be there when life throws you a curve-ball? Chances are it won’t be your phone that consoling you.
8) Start an Off-Screen Hobby
Unable to curtail your screen time? That’s okay, it is not easy. Many people opt to use social media apps out of sheer boredom. So, try adopting new hobbies or doing things you love doing! This will help you feel motivated to do something else that is literally improving you as a human being.
9) Get Your Priorities Straight
Take some time to analyze why it is exactly that you want social media. Make a pros and cons list. Reflect on comments that family or friends may have made (jokingly or otherwise) about how much you’re on your phone. You can also try limiting your number of social media accounts by finding out which one you use most. Instead of having Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more, choose to use one or two.
Life is too short to spend scrolling up and down screens looking at what other people are doing all the time. Every second spent on social media that isn’t helping you grow as an individual is time you can’t get back. Social media addiction is taking a toll on people’s families, careers, education, and relationships. While there are many other tips and strategies you can try, we hope these help to prevent or overcome social media addiction.