While ‘social media addiction’ or ‘internet addiction’ may not officially be listed as a disorder, many psychologists are concerned about the behavior changes among prolonged users.
Excessive use of social media
Excessive use of social media on a daily basis can cause feelings of unease, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. (McDool et al, 2016). For these reasons, psychologists suggest that people need to be aware of their relationship with social media.
Although social media may not affect everyone in the same way, here are few things to take note of, in order to ensure that your use of social media is not hampering productivity. This list will also help you decide if social media is affecting you in a negative manner.
- Do you check your phone for social media updates first thing in the morning?
- Has it become necessary for you to spend a significant amount of time before going to bed on your phone or your computer, in order for you to fall asleep?
- Is social media now your main or only outlet for leisure?
- Are you using social media as a distraction to avoid other unpleasant emotions?
- Do you find yourself negatively comparing yourself to others? Frequent users mention that they sometimes feel like others are having more fun, causing FOMO or ‘Fear of Missing Out’. Has this negative comparison caused you to feel isolated and left out?
- Do you frequently feel envious of others while engaging in social media?
- Does viewing other people’s social media feed make you think about your own shortcomings?
- Have picture likes, comments, number of followers etc, contributed significantly to increased feelings of self-worth?
- Is your time online causing you to feel disconnected to people around you?
- Has it recently gotten harder for you to interact with people face-to-face?
- Have you noticed a decrease in your ability to concentrate on tasks ahead?
- Do you get headaches or feel tired often, notice an increase in fatigue after using social media for a prolonged period of time?
How does it make you feel?
How do you feel immediately after a social media binge? Are you left feeling worse than how you felt before scrolling through? If so, it might be a good idea to take a break.
While it might be difficult initially to cut back on your usage, you might find yourself actually enjoying the time you spend doing something else. Here are a few things you can do, to help ease the transition:
- You can start using a time tracker website that monitors the amount of time you spend on social media websites. People claim that the app helps them be aware of their social media habits, stay on track, and increase productivity.
- Try limiting your online social interactions to one device.
- Try to substitute your social media time with face-to-face activities with family and friends who support and care about you. For instance, you could make a conscious effort to put down your phone and other devices when you’re with others. You could also consider expanding your in-person social circles to include people with similar interests.
- Due to the constant visual stimulation that social media provides, people report feeling anxious and restless when they suddenly stop using it. If you catch yourself feeling ill at ease or restless, try to distract yourself by exercising or by practicing mindful meditation.
- Lastly, when you go back to using social media, make sure that you set firm boundaries, based on avoiding platforms that leave you feeling upset.