If you Google “social media addiction”, you’ll receive over 33 million relevant hits. Among them, you’ll find articles like “12 Signs that you’re Addicted to Social Media”, “Social Media Addiction is a Bigger Problem Than you Think”, “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health”, and “What I Learned In 12 Weeks of Therapy For Social Media Addiction”.
There is no question that social media is addictive — it’s designed to be.
Perhaps you feel like social media has an undue power over you. Maybe you catch yourself scrolling through profiles, clicking through pictures, or falling down YouTube black holes more often than you would like. Maybe your relationship with social media has gotten out of hand. No matter where you stand on your relationship with social media, one thing is for sure: spending too much time on social media is bad for our wellbeing and happiness.
Depression, anxiety, loneliness, and inadequacy are all common feelings we may experience after spending time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or any other digital poison of choice. In fact, researchers at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine found in a study that people who frequently use social media are three times more likely to be depressed than those who use it sparingly.
The more we use social media, the more psychological consequences we face.
Why shouldn’t we reduce the time we spend on social media or even quit using it all together? There is a lot of talk about the benefits we can gain by doing so: increased confidence, better moods, improved awareness, higher cognitive functioning, and more time to spend with loved ones.
In other words, if we give up social media, we significantly improve our lives.
If you’re looking for a way to make a change for the better, make life easier, or be a little happier in this coming year, consider participating in a social media “reset”.
Giving Your Mind a Clean Slate
A social media reset is a period of time in which you limit your time on or avoid social media. There are a number of benefits to participating in a reset. First, it allows you to step back from your daily social media habits to see the relationship from a new perspective. You may find you are too dependent on social media without realizing it! A reset also allows you time to reset your short term and long term priorities away from the influences of your extended network. Finally, if or when you decide to use social media again, you will get a chance to set your intentions for the relationship. You will get to decide when and how long you use social media; you will control the relationship. Social media will not control you!
Ask yourself the following questions to see if a social media reset would be a good idea for you:
- Why do you turn to social media? Are you bored? Lonely? Feeling down? Do you browse Facebook or scroll Instagram out of habit?
- What do you use social media for? Consider all of the platforms that you frequent. Do you use them to communicate with friends? Do you use them to stalk old colleagues? Do you use them to post pictures and count likes? Do you use them to gain information? Do you use them for work purposes?
- What is the pattern of action that leads you to browse social media? Is there an emotional trigger? Do you use it as a procrastination tool? Do you find yourself on Pinterest or Twitter without even knowing how you got there?
- Last, how do you feel after you use social media? Do you feel rejuvenated? Do you feel informed? Do you feel down? Do you feel depressed?
Reflect on your answers. Do you like what you see?
If you don’t, we recommend you consider participating in one of two types of social media resets: a soft reset or a hard reset.
A soft reset on social media will help you curb or control your social media use.
A soft reset may be a good option for those of us who need the networking, marketing, or information sharing capabilities of social media for work purposes or to communicate with far-flung loved ones. It works because while we think we want to keep social media, what we really want is to gain more control over our lives.
Follow this step by step process to design your personalized soft reset:
- Decide how long you will give yourself each day on each site. Will you allow yourself three ten-minute chunks of scrolling time or an hour after work is over?
- Decide where you can and cannot use social media. Can you use social media while at work, at home, on the subway, or while standing in line waiting to order a cup of coffee?
- Decide if you want to prohibit yourself from using social media on certain days of the week. Do you get a free-for-all on the weekends?
Once you’ve designed your reset, consider these suggestions to help apply your new schedule:
- Download apps like Self Control on your computer to limit the amount of time you are allowed on certain websites.
- Use services like Hootsuite to pre-schedule your social media posts at the beginning of the week so that you don’t have to login multiple times during the week.
- Opt-out of your auto-login feature. Having to re-type your password and login information gets to be a hassle over time and it might deter you from logging in on a whim.
- Keep your Facebook Chat turned to “off” or “away” so you are not inundated with chat boxes.
- Opt-out of push notifications on your phone.
- Keep your phone in your purse or pocket. Leave it in the car if you have to.
- Don’t bring your computer into your bedroom.
A great tool to use with your reset is our 66-Day Calendar. This download is a great companion tool and can help you to use the soft reset as a chance to build a positive new habit. Over time and with purposeful behavior behind you, you will find that you are more intentional in your social media use.
The hard reset is, well, hard. It requires you to quit all social media cold turkey for a specific amount of time. For some, this is unthinkable. For others, it is the only way forward.
We recommend you choose either a 30, 60 or 90-day hiatus from social media. If you can, go longer! If you want, quit altogether!
- Take account of the people that you regularly communicate with over social media. Before you do anything, let them know of your decision, so they don’t worry about you. Exchange cell numbers or email addresses. We want you to have a break from social media, not your friends—there is a difference!
- Make a list of all the social media sites you frequent. Login and deactivate all accounts. Or, have someone you trust reset all of the passwords and keep it hidden from you until the hard reset is over.
- Delete all apps on your phone or tablet. That way, the visual trigger of the app won’t leave you with undue stress. Then, on your computer, download a site blocker to blacklist your frequented sites.
- Go old school. If you want to really challenge yourself, exchange your smartphone for a flip-phone or turn off your data.
For many of us, quitting in this manner will be very difficult. That’s okay. Expect that we’ll need to arm ourselves with tools and resources to carry ourselves through the process. For instance, plan to get an audiobook (or a real book), write in a journal, or communicate with friends during your downtimes. Call, text, or email people. Go for a walk. Smell the fresh air. Give your eyes a rest from the blue light.
When all is said and done and the hard reset is over, you may decide you really would like to have some of your social media outlets back. That’s okay too! Regardless of what happens after all is said and done, we guarantee this experience will change how you view and interact with social media in a fundamental way.