Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Flickr. Text messages. Pinterest. Tumblr. Snapchat.
The list could go on and on. And we keep getting on and on. Each and every day it’s reported we spend more time on social media than we do eating, socializing, grooming or socializing in person – with about two hours on social media platforms and a total of 11 hours every day in front of a screen of some sort.
What does that look like over a lifetime?
You’d think all that time behind the screen would make us get cabin fever but it according to Psychology Today, too much time behind screens can literally change our brains! That’s right, overindulging in screen time is restructuring of the matter that makes up your brain. This can cause overall poorer cognitive performance as well.
Not enough reason to skimp on screen time? Just take into account that using technology excessively behind a screen may inhibit the emotional development of all us, young and old. Because let’s face it you don’t need to be empathetic, caring, or even listen to your computer or phone and it will start to show.
Are you pushing through the pain?
Strained eyesight, headaches, sleep disturbances, body pains, increased risk of heart disease and of course the most potent of all in social media suckage; Dopamine through addiction and reward seeking. The the “feel-good hormone,” is part of the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits. Getting ‘Likes’ or ‘Loves’ on your content turns on similar brain regions as those linked to cravings for drugs and gambling — every time we see a new post or get a reaction to ours, it’s like a hit of brain high fructose corn syrup.
What would happen if you decided to spend even tiny amount of that time doing something productive? You’d be surprised how far that would go.
However now, there’s even a proposed mental health condition ‘connected’ to being connected. It’s called Social Media Disorder and is similar to addiction and social (anxiety) disorders. More social media seems to mean more problems, many of which you may have exhibited or seen.
Think about these 10 questions…
- Do you sometimes neglect other duties to use social media?
- Are you using social media to get a feeling of escape from the troubles of your life at times?
- Have you found yourself feeling anxious about your social media accounts when you don’t check them often?
- Does looking at others social media sometimes cause you to compare your life to theirs or feel jealousy?
- When you look closely at your friends on social media are many of them people you do not actually see in person often?
- Do you interrupt conversations to check social media?
- Currently is your social media usage more than you originally planned?
- Is your average time on social media platforms more than three hours per day?
- Have friends and family made comments about your social media habits?
- Would you say that your social media persona is the image you want others to view you as?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to more than five of the questions above, you could be stuck in a social media ‘suck’.
How do you get out of a social media suck?
Do you really need to know a coworker checked in at their favorite dry cleaners? Or that there’s a flash sale at the online store you purchased your Halloween costume from? Probably not. Don’t let notifications interrupt your normal routine. You might actually find concentration and focus on what you’re doing may increase once this is implemented.
Start a new hobby
Make time for the things that interest or intrigue you. This doesn’t have to be anything over the top, it just needs to be something that isn’t your phone. Join a trivia team, volunteer, start a book club. Whatever you’ve been wanting to try now is the time. Scrolling through feeds won’t give you the same sense of accomplishment that doing something for yourself will.
Opt for face-to-face meetings
Remember when you use to meet the gang out without endless texting and virtual chatting? Call up friends and family and skip the screen. Take the time to enjoy a new restaurant, hear about your Aunt’s latest vacation, or visit a friend you’ve been missing. Forget ‘selfies’ and ‘Snapchats’, smell the air, listen to someone’s laugh, get in touch with your human side again and reconnect.
Restrain and refrain
Take the time to consciously restrict your time behind the texting and more. Think about how much time you really spend on social media and then parse that down into realistic hours. Don’t try to go cold turkey and stop using social media all together, gradually step down by cutting your time in half first and going from there. This will allow you to flex your willpower muscle and feed your “feel good” feelings more naturally.
Don’t think you can do it? This woman went 30 days without social media and documented her journey. As expected she noted the expected change in sleep, focus, and overall clarity.
My well-being has improved tenfold. My mind has never been so clear. I feel like I’m learning how to properly communicate in a world without social media. I’ve been given more time with my thoughts.– Emma Fierberg
When all else fails, try simply placing your phone out of arm’s reach. You’d be surprised how little you notice it when you can’t see or hear it. None of this is to imply that social media is “bad”, just that it might be too much. Overuse of social media could be detrimental in the long run.
Think about what you’re doing online, and if you’re experiencing increasingly negative feelings or feel drained when using social media take a step back. Self awareness is critical in learning how much social media is sucking you in.
Oh and those icons under here? Don’t feel pressured to click any of them today…we understand you might not want to get “sucked” in right now.