You’re well past your bedtime, but your smartphone and laptop are still keeping you up. You know that you have to start your day early tomorrow morning, but you just can’t seem to close your gadgets for fear of missing out. You recognize that your attachment to social media may not be healthy anymore, but what can you do? It just doesn’t stop, and the notifications keep on popping up!
Worried that you’re the only one experiencing sleepless nights because of your attachment to social media? You are not alone – far from it! The PEW Research Center has revealed that 54% of those surveyed admit that they spend too much time on their phones. That number could even rise if you include those that aren’t aware of how much time they spend on their social media accounts.
Certainly, the amount of time people of all ages spends looking at their phones leaves a lot to be desired. While being connected to your friends and family regardless of distance may seem like an incredible innovation, the fact that digital interactions now take precedence over real-life interactions does seem a bit dysfunctional, doesn’t it?! There’s a thin line that separates healthy social media life and social media addiction, and you must make sure to tread carefully and not cross that line.
What Makes Social Media Addictive?
To some, four hours of daily screen time on social media applications may not be a lot. To others, spending even two hours on social media applications seem to be too much. It’s incredibly challenging to accurately quantify what separates a healthy social media life from social media addiction. Screen time is just one of the long lists of factors to consider when it comes to assessing social media attachment.
It’s not surprising why people get easily distracted by social media. Connecting with people with just a click of a finger is a privilege that we now get to have because of today’s technological advancements. Social media is not just a way to connect with families, friends, acquaintances, and strangers alike—it is also our quickest gateway to current news and information circling around the World Wide Web.
Since the creators of social media sites and applications earn money through peoples’ interaction within their apps, they make it a point to design their platform in such a way that people would be encouraged to spend more time using it. It’s not just about the content that these sites have. We’re also talking about its design, interface, and features. The number of “likes”, “retweets,” “shares,” or “views” may just imply a surface-level metric to us, but it is a way for social media sites to encourage greater engagement. There’s a lot more to social media sites and applications than just fun. The sooner we know this, the better it would be for us to cope with its effects.
How to Tell If You May Have Social Media Addiction
As mentioned earlier, it’s not just screen time that determines one’s level of attachment to social media sites. Apart from that, there are other things we need to track as well when it comes to our attitude towards social media. Here are some of the signs that you might want to look out for if you want to know just how attached or addicted you are to social media:
Losing track of time when online
There’s an infinite number of things you can discover when you browse social media apps and sites online. With such a large amount of information, it can be easy to lose sight of what you initially planned to do and end up looking up random information or connecting with people you initially didn’t intend to reach out to. When you habitually lose track of time while browsing through social media sites to the extent that you forget to live your life in the physical realm, then it might be a sign that you need to start detoxifying yourself from social media.
Becoming agitated when you get interrupted from your online activities
Another sign that points to social media addiction is your agitation whenever people interrupt your social media activities. This is not to say that a simple moment of annoyance already signifies addiction. Of course, there are times when feeling annoyed when people interrupt you from doing what you need to do is natural. However, if you get so agitated when people pull you out of your digital life just because they want you to participate in real-life activities, then it might be the time for you to think about your attitude towards social media.
Losing interest over activities you enjoyed before your social media attachment
Before social media, people connected by meeting with each other, eating out, or watching movies in cinemas. Sometimes, they bonded over sports or board games. People also danced, wrote songs, and bonded with each other through various art forms. All of those were in person. Not to say that these things don’t exist now, but they’ve been overshadowed by social media “activity.”
When you lose interest in traditional activities in favor of just online social media interactions, you might want to stop and evaluate your priorities. This does not mean that all types of real-life interactions always supersede online connections. However, it is not healthy to confine your social interactions with others to just the online realm.
Apart from the signs mentioned above, other behavioral factors indicate possible addiction to social media. Some of these include relationship issues due to over-use of social media, losing sleep because of extreme social media use, and the feeling of not being in control because of being away from social media.
Social Media Detox: Why You Need to Limit Your Social Media Screen Time
As people always say: too much of everything is never a good thing. This principle also applies to one’s social media interactions. While it isn’t wrong to regularly communicate through digital means, doing it to the extent that you ignore real-life interactions altogether can be damaging to one’s psyche. In fact, there are a lot of researches that show just how detrimental social media addiction can be.
Health-wise, having too much screen time, especially at night, will affect your sleeping patterns negatively. Having irregular sleeping hours isn’t really good for your body. You can be immune to more illness when you do not have enough rest due to too much screen time. There are even reports that brains of internet addicts look like brains of drug and alcohol addicts as well. Psychologically, social media addiction is linked to low moods, loneliness, loss of friends, and even depression.
These are just some of the negative effects of social media addiction to your physical and emotional health. Your relationships could also suffer because of this. If you think you may be starting to get addicted to social media, you might want to think about starting your detox as soon as possible.
Preventing Social Media Addiction
The good news about social media addiction is the fact that there are ways to avoid or lessen your digital activities. With enough self-discipline, you would be able to curb the way you participate in online interactions. Here are some things you can do to limit your social media addiction:
Disable your notifications
Sometimes, we cannot help but glance on our mobile phone’s lock screen to check if there are new notifications that we should immediately respond to. Notifications are designed to always keep you on the loop on real-time updates on your social media accounts. By disabling your notifications, you can get rid of the feeling of missing something important altogether, and you won’t have a temptation to check your device habitually.
Limit your screen time
Nowadays, smartphones have screen time updates that tell you how much time you’ve spent using a single app per day. As much as possible, utilize such applications and keep track of your online behavior. After seeing your daily social media consumption, try to set limits and abide by those as strictly as possible.
Find activities that do not necessitate the use of your mobile phone
Since mobile phones are extremely versatile, there’s a tendency for us to use it on all our daily activities—from listening to music, reading books, reports, watching movies, and even playing games. Try to pick-up a real-life book or listen to music using alternative devices instead. It may be difficult at first, but the benefit of your mobile phone independence will definitely be worth it.
There are other things you can do to prevent or address your social media addiction. You can establish phone-free time periods during the day, put your phone away during meals and conversations with friends and family, and even actively change your attitude towards social media.
Get Started and Address Your Social Media Addiction Now
As much as possible, try to discipline yourself and set goals in connection with your social media addiction. This may not be easy, but starting as soon as possible will help you get rid of the habit faster. We recognize the fact that this is not easy. Just like other addictions, you cannot just set a goal and expect not to fall off the wagon all the time.
With the help of Capital Choice Counselling, you can overcome your over-attachment to social media and lead a healthier life, physically & emotionally. If you think that you may need assistance from professionals when it comes to addressing your social media addiction, we are happy to help you regulate this habit. It’s not that we want you to refrain from using social media altogether. However, there needs to be a balance with your social media interactions and real-life interactions.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can help!