5 ways to control your social media addiction

social media

Merriam-Webster defines addiction as a “compulsive need” to consume a “habit-forming substance”. It goes on to explain that if you’re not getting your hit, there are “symptoms upon withdrawal”. Now, glance away from your tiny little screen for a few seconds and ask yourself this question:

Are you addicted to social media?

The compulsive use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other brilliant social media apps may not have medical recognition or be defined as an actual disorder, but there’s no doubt that being addicted to social media can have a serious negative impact on your life.

Whether it’s affecting your study, work, relationships, hobbies or personality, it’s obvious that you can get sucked a long way down the social media rabbit-hole.

How’s that? Spend too much time obsessing about what everyone else is up to and you may think you’re the only one without a perfect life. There’s also a lot of nasty and negative people hanging out in cyberspace who want nothing more than to bother, upset, bully and ‘troll’ you.

Girlfriends communicate and connected by mobile phone

If you’re obsessing at work, that old saying ‘time is money’ is relevant. If you’re on Twitter rather than out with friends, the opportunity cost could be a descent into real social awkwardness. And if you don’t know when to close that app, you’ll end every day tired, stressed and feeling like you’re forever behind the never-ending news cycle.

But, dear Millennials, there is light at the end of that deep tunnel!

Just like any other addiction, admitting you have a problem with social media is the first step. Then it’s time to move on to our helpful 5-step programme for turning that Facebook fixation into a healthy relationship with your device!

Delete, delete, delete

As a social media addict, what do you do when you’re standing in the queue at the supermarket? You check Twitter, of course! But you can’t do it if it’s not there, so taking the bold step of deleting your problem apps from your phone is where you should consider starting.

It may sound drastic, but you don’t have to quit your favourite social media channels completely. Re-download the app once you get into your home WiFi range, or just keep in touch on your computer or your tablet.

Turn notifications off

If you really can’t bear the thought of deleting your favourite apps, the next best thing is to turn those notifications off. Notifications are not just handy reminders that there’s something new to look at, they are very carefully designed to make your adrenaline rush as you race to find out what’s up.

So head into your preferences and at the very least limit what sort of notifications you get. Yes, you want to know if your Mum has texted you, but do you really need to know straight away if your Facebook bestie tagged you in a hilarious video?

Travel together

Limit your time

Many people who love social media don’t just check it for a minute or two – they get stuck in for sessions that can last for hours.

So try giving yourself a time limit every time you log on. If the lure of scrolling beautiful photos and videos on Instagram is just too strong to ignore, make a new habit of setting the 3-minute timer on your phone just before you tap in. Once it goes off, tap out and get straight back to work!

Start enjoying the moment

Even though they’re whipping their phones out to capture the moment, many social media addicts are actually not enjoying the moment at all. As they upload statuses and photos, compose witty Tweets and record that live performance, they’re more focused on how it will look on their Snapchat Story than actually living the moment in real life.

So at the very least, start asking yourself these questions: Do I really need to memorialise the moment I bought my third coffee of the day? Didn’t I Tweet about how much I love Game of Thrones last week? Does anyone actually want to watch your shaky, hand-held recording of this minor pub act on Facebook?

Why not stop living through your followers’ eyes and start living your real-life moments through your very own?

reading man

Find another way

Most people become alcoholics after starting with a harmless beer or wine. It’s the same with social media – it’s great until it takes over your life.

A big reason social media use can get out of control is because of how handy our devices and the internet have become. Got a minute to kill because you’re bored? Instead of ‘checking in’, we bet you’ve actually got a fascinating book on the shelf that you feel like you don’t have time for.

The way social media allows us to keep in touch with our friends and family is also brilliantly handy. But do you know what? Before social media, we survived not by ‘tagging a friend’, but by getting together for coffee, picking up the old dog and bone, writing an email, or walking the dog around the block.

Don’t say “goodbye” to social media, say “see ya later”.

It’s become ‘a thing’ in the last couple of years to completely quit social media, but – even for addicts – we don’t think that’s necessary. By taking a good hard look at how you’re using social media, we think your life can actually be enhanced rather than hindered in this amazing digital era simply by cutting back.

Because you know what? Real life is fun too!

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Also published on Medium.