Social media has become a big part of all of our lives. It’s hard to go a day without using Instagram or Twitter to check the news or see what our friends are up to. Addiction is a strong word to use when talking about social media consumption, but it’s important to recognize the amount of time we spend looking at posts and scrolling through feeds. I have caught myself on my Instagram’s “Explore” page for hours at a time, unsure of how I even got to an account that only posts quotes from the TV show “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Struggling to juggle my busy life while being sucked into social media makes it very hard to be productive. My past experiences with this addiction have taught me some simple ways to combat this extremely common problem.
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In order to monitor myself and my social media intake, I turned on my screen time notifications on my phone which gives me an update every week or so with how much time I spend on my phone a day. Information like this is very eye-opening: most people either spend way more time than they thought looking at their phone or way less. There are also features on apps like Instagram where you can find out how much time you spend on those individual platforms. You can make a plan for how much time you should spend on each app per day; limiting yourself might make it easier to fight the urge to pull out your phone simply because you’re bored. You can also reward yourself if you meet your goals so that you feel an incentive to tackle your social media problem.
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I notice my social media addiction the most when I have a lot of important things to do like homework or applying for jobs/internships. Whenever I am bored with what I am doing or I just feel like procrastinating a little bit, I find myself picking out stories that I hear on Twitter and following up with them on YouTube or Google; this creates an endless cycle. There is always something to look at on social media; you can just keep digging and digging to find more content which makes it so hard to pull away. In order to remember my priorities, I make lists every day of a week so that I can make sure everything gets accomplished. I will try to stay off of my phone until I have checked a few items off of my list in order to remain productive while still getting to look at social media for an appropriate amount of time.
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In the worst-case scenario–if you are too distracted by social media that you aren’t being productive at all–I would suggest taking your phone out of the equation. When I was in high school, with swim practice until 5:30 and a mountain of homework to do, sometimes I would give my mom my phone. No matter how many times I asked, she would never give it back to me. The absence of social media was hard to cope with at first, but I realized how much more I got done and how much I really didn’t miss staring at the screen all the time. Social media addiction is only an issue because of how much we have to do in our daily lives; Instagram and Twitter can waste precious time that can be used for many other things. I think that social media platforms are a great form of communication and expression, but it’s important to remember that our whole world isn’t within our phones.