How to Limit Social Media Use
Most of us have to know our preoccupation with digital and social media has become a serious cultural problem. Mental health issues are skyrocketing, physical health is declining, and attention disorders are increasing at an exponential rate. Yet we tend to ignore that social media use, our plugged-in lifestyle, and the hours we spend using our devices every day might have something to do with it.
It is much too simple of an explanation to blame this cultural problem solely on social media. It’s a great cumulation of things but as social creatures, this altered form of “communication” and “socialization” is affecting us in ways we cant even truly understand.
Why Would you Want to Limit Social Media Usage?
There are so many reasons, all of which have a huge impact on our overall happiness and wellbeing.
Social Media Steals Your Time
I don’t think we really have any concept of how much time we are actually spending plugged into our phones. Would it surprise you to know that the average user spends 2-3 hours per day just on social media?
What if I told you that the average user unlocks their phone about every 11 min?
Did you know that most of us will spend SEVEN years of our lives on our phones?
Social Functioning is Impacted by Social Media Use
We joke about it but social media really is affecting how we communicate and socialize with each other.
We are creating less and less meaningful real life relationships.
Brain Structure and Development Are Impaired
Being plugged in all the time is literally changing our brains. Children under 12 do not have the ability to process the information they are receiving and being plugged in is causing permanent damage to their brains.
Social Media is designed to keep you hooked. It is set up to provide us with hits of dopamine, or feel good emotions, that makes us want to keep scrolling.
Social Media is Built on a Foundation of Manipulation
Did you know that social media companies have hundreds of people working on algorithms to make sure you stay on their platforms as long as possible? Social media makes money from advertisers, and in order for us to see these ads we have to be in front of our screens, the longer we stay the more ads we can see.
It is literally their job to get you hooked and find ways to get you addicted. They know how our psychology works, how our brains are wired, and how to use this information to hook us.
These issues are just the tip of the iceberg. I provide a list of resources at the end of the post for you to do a deep dive but for now, I hope I’ve given you at least a few reasons to think about limiting your social media.
Educate Yourself On Why You NEED Social Media Limits
When I first began to throw around the idea that maybe I needed to limit my social media it was simply because of the time I was spending on these apps each day. I won’t even tell you the number of hours I was on there because it’s embarrassing.
Once I finally decided to start cutting back I thought it would just be this easy thing but it wasn’t. Which in turn made me feel like a crazy person. I’m a grown adult, shouldn’t I be able to control how many times I look at Instagram each day?
The way our brains work is complex, so complex that we don’t even understand it all yet, and maybe we never will. While we don’t know the full extent of the effects that digital media is having on our brains we have enough information to know that the effects are not looking good so far.
1. Turn off notifications
All of them. For all the apps. Ask yourself if anything happening on Instagram or Snapchat is actually worth you giving an immediate response. The answer is no.
Turning off notifications gives you the power to decide when to bother yourself with checking your apps instead of the other way around.
2. Delete Apps Altogether
Whether it’s permanent or just for a fast, just delete the applications off your devices. Your information isn’t going anywhere but at least you can remove the temptation. It takes a lot more thought to go to the app store, download, and sign into the app vs just clicking it open.
3. Set Time Limits
Did you know you can go into the settings of your phone and set specific limits for each application? Decide on how much time you have available to spend on social media, set your limits, and be done.
4. Limit usage to One Device
Many of us have multiple devices we use daily, all of which are connected to our social media accounts. You could say that you will only access social media channels from your computer and delete the apps from all of your other devices.
5. Leave your Phone in Another Room when you Sleep
I read that 70% of the world looks at their phone within five min. of going to bed and five min. of waking up each day. Break the habit by making it less accessible. I’m sure going back to a regular old alarm clock will wake you up just the same as your phone does too!
6. Stop Multitasking with your Phone
We hear about distracted driving all the time, this should be a no-brainer but sadly, it isn’t. Put your phone somewhere that you can’t reach it while driving to avoid the temptation.
My husband always jokingly asks “how did we poop before smartphones?”. Which is kind of weird right? We cant even perform this bodily function without a phone in our hands.
7. Make it a rule to not use phones when eating!
There is so much quality time that can be had sitting at the dinner table with your family. Please, do not make this a time where you ignore your loved ones and plug yourself in.
8. Pick up new Hobbies
If you find yourself picking up your phone all day long because you have a moment of free time, find something to fill that time with! Literally, any non-tech hobby will do. Gardening, reading, painting, baking, sewing. Just by staying off social media, you are creating more time in your day to learn or cultivate new skills.
9. Set Firm Limits within Your Household
Your kids should not have smartphones. Period. There are a TON of reasons but my number one reason for young kids is that digital media permanently alters their brain structure. Permanent.
I’ve included some really great resources about HOW screens are hurting our children and I strongly suggest you take a look. I had NO IDEA about the consequences and now that I do, I can never unlearn that information or stop trying to spread awareness to other parents.
Talk with your spouse about making changes and stick with them. Hold each other accountable.
10. Embrace Being Bored
This is my favorite byproduct of limiting social media. I have created these little pockets in my day where I simply have nothing to do and nothing to think about. I can take a breath and just exist. I never knew how much I needed this until I started making it a point to just do nothing.
Social Media Use NEEDS to be Limited
Social media is addicting, but most of us who use it don’t even realize we are addicted. Breaking away from an addiction is hard. Even though it seems like putting our phones away should be so easy, the reality is it just isn’t easy at all.
The problems with social media connections are complex and far-reaching and most of us aren’t in a position to make any kind of sweeping cultural change anyways. What we do have control over is ourselves. We have influence over our children, our spouses, and the inner circle of people we connect with.
Change happens at home. If you want to see actual change in your life you have to start making changes with yourself first. You have to teach and guide your children to continue this pattern of change and growth and then maybe once millions of small changes add up we will see a true difference.