Social media is a part of everyday life. That’s just a fact. You likely have one or more accounts you surf on a daily, if not hourly, basis. But have you ever stopped to think that constantly checking in on your digital life may be having adverse effects?
No, we’re not here to wag our finger at you and tell you that Twitter is the downfall of Western civilization or that Facebook will turn you into an antisocial clam. Like with anything, the key is moderation.
Some college students attribute lower grades and lost friendships to extensive social media monitoring. Exposés have focused on the societal pressures that social media can exert on college students.
But the evidence isn’t just anecdotal. Recent studies have linked frequent social media use to everything from lost sleep to depression and anxiety. A 2003 report from Duke University revealed the pressure students feel to be “smart, accomplished, fit, beautiful and popular, all without visible effort.” This pressure can, and often does, manifest itself in social media feeds as well. It’s always important to remember that social media provides a heavily filtered and moderated window into someone’s life.
Social media overuse or addiction can often be a self-diagnosis. Do you snap pictures of your dinner and upload them to Instagram before taking a bite? Do you constantly refresh your feed to see if you’ve earned another like? Some of these habits may be signs that you are a little too plugged in.
So how can you begin to reclaim your life from the grip of social media? Immediately smashing your phone to pieces is not the answer. Nor are we advocating a cold-turkey divorce from your digital life. Here are a few steps you can take to slowly reduce your social media use:
- Block out some “me” time
You may already do this with your daily schedule to take a break from classes. But what about taking a break from your phone, and in turn, the temptation of social media? Often, down time is filled with phone time. Pick out a favorite book and read it for a half hour before bed. You might be surprised how much more enriching this technique can be.
- Use tech to battle tech
There are tons of programs out there that can block certain sites or apps on your computer or smartphone. We know this may sound a little counter-intuitive, but they have been found to be surprisingly effective.
Smartphones are designed to be an all-in-one tool: alarm clock, GPS, music player. We come to believe we need them in our lives at all times just to function. Instead of putting your smartphone next to your bed and checking Twitter or Facebook right when you wake up, put it out of reach and only grab it before you head out the door. That way, you’ll be less tempted to get absorbed in the never-ending stream of photos and status updates.
If you find yourself too immersed in your online life, take a step back and try your best to disconnect for a little while. You may be surprised at the benefits.