Social Media Addiction: How To Use Social Media The Right Way
Imagine this – You’re studying. Buried deep in your books. An hour or so passes, and your cell phone beckons to you. “Oh well, a few minutes won’t hurt, I’m due a break anyway.”, you say to yourself. As you drown yourself in the addictive world of social media, the next thing you know, minutes turned to hours…
You might think “no way! That’s not me!” but statistically, you’re already on track to do just that. Based on their current daily behaviour, an average person will spend more than five years of their life using social media, according to a study in Mediakix.
But you can change that. It’s not like you’re addicted to social media, right? Not so fast.
Adam Alter explores the rise in “addictive technology” in his book, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
“The people who create and refine tech, games, and interactive experiences are very good at what they do,” says Alter. “They run thousands of tests with millions of users to learn which tweaks work and which ones don’t—which background colours, fonts, and audio tones maximize engagement and minimize frustration. As an experience evolves, it becomes an irresistible, weaponized version of the experience it once was. In 2004, Facebook was fun; today, it’s addictive.”
The phenomenon is closely linked to smartphone addiction. A recent study found that on average people touch their mobile phones 2,617 times a day. Social media comprised 22 per cent of these interactions.
But when do you cross the line from “heavy use” into addiction? Psychology Today explains addiction as “a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health.”
So are you experiencing social media addiction?
Ask yourself this: Has social media ever “interfered with ordinary responsibilities and concerns,” like watching your child’s soccer game, cooking dinner, replying to a work email, or actively engaging in conversation with a friend who’s right in front of you? If so, you’re likely in good company: there are an estimated 2.46 billion social media users worldwide. That’s a lot of likes and shares!
Here’s what you can do to take your life back:
– Log Your Time
You could manually track your time, but if you want an honest assessment of how much time you spend on social media, an app like Antisocial or In Moment might be easier. It might seem ironic to use a mobile app to minimize the number of times you swipe and tap, but give it a shot.
– Set Limits
If you feel that your social media use is detrimentally affecting other aspects of your life, set some limits.
Try an app like Freedom. It works across multiple devices and helps you manage access to certain websites and apps across their desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones versions.
For computer use, there are browser extensions that can help. StayFocusd for Chrome enables you to limit the time per day you spend on websites you find distracting.
– Know Yourself
This might be the simplest advice, but it can be the hardest to follow. If you know you can’t resist browsing Facebook, delete the app from your phone.
And remember, social media is engineered to be addictive, but that doesn’t mean it makes you happy. Research shows it can actually make you feel sad, depressed, and isolated, so limiting your social media use can pay off really well in terms of mental health as well as improving productivity and relationships.
As with everything – chocolate, cheese, gaming, social media – moderation is key. Just like you stash your candy so you don’t overindulge, hiding certain apps temporarily can help you reclaim some of your precious time!