WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Some of you may be wondering why Social Media is listed with other online addictions like pornography and gambling. Well the fact of the matter is that Social Media sites are actually engineered to be addictive. Just look at what Sean Parker, one of the original founders of Facebook, had to say;
“The thought process was all about, ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’,” he said. “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop. … You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
Dopamine is a chemical that our brain releases to make us feel good. It provides that natural “high” in our bodies that we all experience when we win, overcome an obstacle, or are given positive recognition for an accomplishment. As human beings we naturally crave that positive emotion so it should come as no surprise that there are millions of people who have developed unhealthy habitual use of social media and some who are actually addicted to it.
How Do You Identify Social Media Addiction?
Over 40% of the world has a social media account so there are a staggering number of people who connect and share content online. With as many people as there are who are using social media every day, the question we have to ask ourselves is this; at what point has our social media use crossed over into an unhealthy addiction? This questionnaire provided by Northpoint Washington will help answer that question. As you read through it try to be as honest with your answers as you can. This may feel a little uncomfortable for some but the only way you can address a problem is if you know there is one to begin with.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night to check your notifications?
Do you hurry to get up in the morning to check your social media?
Do you ever feel disappointed if you don’t receive as many notifications as you were hoping for?
Do you have a morning ritual of checking your social media accounts?
Do you keep your phone in bed with you at night?
Do you use verbs that only apply in the social media world? For example, saying you need to Facebook that, or tweet that?
Do you use hashtags when you speak?
Do you spend more than four hours on social media every day?
Do you get on social media in the restroom?
Do you use social media to contact companies to complain, rather than calling them?
Do you get upset if you don’t have a good WiFi or Internet connection?
If your follower numbers drop, do you become very upset?
Is social media beginning to negatively influence everything else in your life?
If you answered yes to more than a few of these questions, you probably do have a social media addiction.
Where Do I Go From Here?
Social media is not inherently bad but excessive use can cause some to suffer psychological problems like anxiety, depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and loneliness just to name a few. Unlike other addictions, like pornography or gambling, abstinence isn’t necessarily the best or right way to treat an individual with an unhealthy social media habit. What most professionals recommend is controlled, or limited use and access, to social media accounts so the person can focus on developing other healthy habits and hobbies that they can engage in instead. These healthy alternative activities can often provide the same level of satisfaction and chemical reactions in the brain as social media without some of the adverse effects of it.
Establishing Healthy Habits Online
Addictive behaviors are often triggered by something else that is going on in our lives. For example one might turn to social media when they are feeling bored, stressed, or depressed. Identifying the “why” behind your social media addiction will help you formulate a plan to overcome it. Here are a few steps that can be taken to get you back on track.
- Turn Off Social Media Notifications- If you want to limit how much time you spend on social media the first step you should take is to turn off the notifications. This can be done by going into the “settings” option and selecting “notification settings”. With notifications turned to “off” you will no longer be inturrupted with distractions that take you away from other things that are more important.
2. Remove Social Media Apps From Your Phone – If you find yourself constantly accessing your social media accounts, even when notifications have been turned off, then you may want to remove them from your phone altogether. By doing this you will limit your access to social media to a computer or tablet that isn’t with you all the time. This will help you to stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
3. Use Social Media As A Reward For Productivity – Social Media can be a nice way to reward yourself for a job well done. Instead of losing track or wasting valuable time during the day you can now focus on getting the most important things in your life done first. Once you have completed your daily “to do” list, you can then reward yourself with a little time on your social media accounts.
4. Set A Time Limit For Social Media – It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re scrolling through a social media feed and that is why it’s important to set a time limit before you begin. You can set a timer or an alarm right on the device itself to keep track and then turn it off when the alert pops up. Apple has some great features built into their devices to limit time on specific types of apps. This too can be a great way to “limit” your daily intake of social media.
5. Move On To Something Better – There are a lot of great things besides social media that you can do online. You can listen to educational audiobooks or podcasts, read articles or information about a topic that interests you, or even develop new talents or skill that can help you progress in a new career or hobby. Take time to explore things that interest you and take advantage of the incredible resource that is in front of you. As you gain knowledge and learn new skills, you’ll also find that your self-esteem, confidence, and attitude will also improve.
6. Replace Screen Time With Face Time. – Social Media can be a great way to connect with friends and family but nothing can replace the connection that we feel when we are engaged in a one-on-one conversation with someone we love or care about. Now that you have access to so many people online, use that resource to set up time to visit with them. Go to lunch, meet at a park, go for a walk. Replace screen time with “real” time and build your relationships, not your followers.
7. Start Something New – We all have something that we want to try or do but for one reason or another, it just hasn’t happened yet. Today would be a great time for you to start on that “something” that you haven’t done before like learning how to play an instrument, paint, run a marathon, or surf. Whatever that “thing” is for you, now would be a great time to make it happen. By substituting social media time for something better, more fulfilling, more enlightening, or challenging, you will also replace feelings of inadequacy, depression or anxiety with confidence, happiness, and purpose in your life.