Why Social Media Usage Matters
I don’t know about you, but my social media usage has gotten a little out of control lately. It starts with a “quick check” of a push notification, but 30 minutes later? I’m still scrolling.
There are a whole slew of reasons to end, or at least drastically reduce, our social media usage. Studies are finding it causes depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, unrealistic expectations, dissatisfaction with our own lives, fewer real-life human connections, shorter attention spans, decreased productivity, and more. But the biggest allure for me to reduce my social media usage, is time.
A 2017 study found that the average person spent roughly two hours a day on social media apps, including YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and more. That’s over five years of our life spent looking down at a screen, swiping, tapping, oblivious to what’s going on around us.
In a day and age that we feel overwhelmed by our schedules and commitments, we’re giving up two hours every single day to what is, if I’m being honest with myself, pretty mind-numbing activity. And scientifically speaking, it’s self-destructive activity.
Now of course, complete breaks from social media are both eye-opening and refreshing. But they’re not always practical, are they?
Because the fact is that I enjoy sharing occasional thoughts and photos with 700 of my closest friends. I like seeing my coworker’s kids dressed up for Halloween, sharing funny memes, and checking out reviews on local businesses.
How to Reduce Social Media Usage
So what’s the alternative? How can we decrease our social media usage to find a healthy balance between online and real life? There are four easy steps to reduce social media usage. I think you’ll find all of them a breath of fresh air.
- First, use an app to become more aware of your social media usage, and even set limits. It sounds counterintuitive, right? Use an app to decrease app usage? But the idea is that you can’t decrease time spent on social media if you don’t know how much time you actually spend there. Apple’s iOS 12 introduced a built-in app called Screen Time, that monitors how much time you spend on your device, and where. It also allows you to set app limits along with daily scheduled downtime, for both yourself and your kids. Moment – Reduce Screen Time offers the same features, along with guided coaching tips to help you reduce your screen time one step at a time. Android user? Try QualityTime – My Digital Diet or RescueTime Time Management and Digital Wellness.
- Second, turn off notifications and badges on all nonessential apps. Do you really need to know the second someone likes your photo, or that someone you follow pinned something? Apps aren’t sending out push notifications for your benefit, they’re sending them for theirs. Developers know that once you open Facebook to see who liked your photo, you’ll see something in your feed that will catch your eye, and drag you into 20 minutes of mindless scrolling. And that means more revenue for them. Turn off notifications for social media apps, emails, and any other apps that aren’t delivering immediately-pertinent information, then address the next step…
- Third, limit usage to specific times, for a limited amount of time. Now that you’ve turned off notifications, decide when and how long you’ll spend on social media each day. Maybe you’ll continue checking social media throughout the day, but use an app to limit your total daily usage to one hour. Or maybe you’ll allow yourself 45 minutes after you put the kids to bed, or time spent on the bus ride to and from work. Word to the wise: Research has found that checking social media is a bad way to start or end your day, and could cause or worsen anxiety and depression.
- And finally, find alternative ways to reap the benefits of social media. Consider what you love most about social media, and then look into alternative ways of getting the job done. For example, I love how easy social media makes it to share pics of my 3-year-old’s latest shenanigans. I want our family and closest friends to share in those moments, but don’t always want to get dragged into social media apps. So I created a shared photo album on my iPhone. I choose what’s added to the album and who can view it. Viewers can like and comment on photos and videos, and even add their own.
Wrap It Up
You are totally capable of reducing your social media usage! Old habits die hard. But you can conquer them one step at a time, by utilizing tracking apps, turning off notifications, limiting usage to specific times and amounts of time, and finding alternative ways to reap the benefits of social media.
What are you doing with your extra two hours every day? Let us know in the comments!
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