Social media has become part of our day-to-day lives. It has become addictive to the extent that many people remain glued to their phones and laptops checking the latest updates on social media.
With the increasing number of social sites, health experts reveal that social media can increase stress, depression, and anxiety levels. As such, social media breaks also known as social media detox are important.
However, social media is not very bad. It has numerous advantages such as better connection with friends, more visibility, expanding your networks, and keeping you up to date among others.
Even with the advantages, social media can be addictive, and at times taking a break can have some untold benefits.
Characteristics of Social Media addiction
i) Prioritizing social media
If you notice that you keep checking social media early in the morning or just before you sleep you have developed social media dependence over time. You can observe your priorities for one week or so and see how you interact with social media.
ii) Having to use your phone in meetings, while driving, or while walking
This is not only dangerous to you but it shows that you cannot keep off social media for long hours. This pauses the danger of lack of concentration when driving or walking or focusing on key meetings.
iii) Preferring social media communication over face to face
When communicating with friends and family you are likely to prefer communicating via social platforms as opposed to one on one.
iv) Restlessness when you have no access to social sites
In circumstances when you do not have access to your phone, internet connection, etc. you may tend to have fear of missing out because you cannot access social media sites.
v) When comments have a direct effect on you
Social media updates have a characteristic of likes, comments, retweets, dislikes, etc. When you find out that the number of likes or comments has a direct effect on your mood and reaction you are likely to have a social media addiction.
Effects of social media addiction
Whereas social media has numerous benefits, social media addiction can have some side effects on users.
- Increase in anxiety levels
Social media presents too much information from across the globe. Too much exposure can cause worry and fear. You may end up thinking too much about others while consciously or subconsciously comparing yourself to others.
Following up on arguments on social media especially political or news of the day may cause an increase in anxiety and depression levels.
Cyberbullying has been rampant on social networking sites. Online abuse and attacks keep increasing especially from strangers or even people you know and they create pseudo-accounts.
There are various types of cyberbullying;
- Doxing – someone reveals your personal details on social networks without their permission
- Trickery and deception – where someone builds trust with a person and then misuses the trust for personal gain
- Stalking – involves accusing, threatening, and intending to cause harm
- Trolling – someone shares negative and defaming comments online
- Dissing – this happens when someone shares some harsh information to ruin someone’s image.
- Creation of fear of missing out
Social sites such as Instagram will create the perception of a perfect body, fashion, food, holidays, and fun activities.
As you look through notifications a perception of missing out may form in your mind leading to pressure to fit in.
How often do you check your social media? When was the last time you spent the whole day or 6 hours without checking social media? What feeling do you have when someone likes your photo, another one unfollows you or someone puts a negative comment? This shows that you have some form of addiction.
When you spend more time on social media, you end up cutting back the time spent to rest and relax. This is especially when you use your phone at night. Over a period of time, this can translate to fatigue and unproductive hours as a result of not taking enough rest.
Benefits of taking a break from Social Media
i) Save time
Social media can take away your productive time which you can use to work, relax, and for self-care.
By taking time off social media, you will save your productive time for other more useful tasks. If you are a student, you focus more on reading and if you are working, you get better results.
ii) Better mental wellbeing
Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are characteristics of social media addiction. When you keep your phone away, you are in a better position to think and rest well. Further, your meditation increases because you do not have to think about what is happening online.
iii) Control your private life
Social media can give you chances to expose every detail of your life as a result of pressure from followers.
When you take time off social media, you have better privacy with very few people knowing what you are up to as a person.
iv) Improve relationships
Face-to-face communication improves relationships and connects you better with family, friends, and colleagues. Further, this interaction helps you express emotions that you cannot share on phone or via social media sites.
v) You take each day at a time
You will appreciate the small details of your life and avoid comparing yourself to others online. In addition, you will live in the now without any distractions.
What to do when you take time off social media
When you take time off social media, there are a number of things that you can do to keep yourself alert.
- You can consider reading a book to add knowledge or just for fun
- Listen to music
- You can exercise as a way of self-care
- Volunteer for community work or social groups
- Learn a skill
- You can meet with friends and catch up
- Cooking is also another excellent way to spend your time
- Get a hobby that keeps you engaged over time.
Tips to prevent social media addiction
If you realize that you have a social media addiction and you would like to take time off social media, below are some of the tips you can use at a personal level.
- Set a limit on notifications so that you are not receiving notifications each and every second
- Create a time limit on when you can access social sites to prevent being on social media throughout the day. You may also switch off data such that you do not have notifications that can cause you to check
- Try and avoid having your mobile phone at all times.
- When working on serious assignments keep your phone on silent mode
- Do away with apps and many what’s app groups that will keep you on your phone for long hours
- Reduce the number of friends you have on social media
- Create time off and on social media each day to reduce social media-related distractions.
- Volunteer somewhere such that you have an activity you are handling at any given time
- You can also set social media boundaries which include unfollowing some social media accounts, deleting negative comments, and avoiding comparing yourself to others.
How to stay completely off social media
In the era of digital networking, many people ask whether it is possible to completely keep off social media networking. Whereas it may be hard to stay off social media there are ways in which you can permanently stay off social media
a) Uninstalling the apps
The first step to permanently staying off social media is by deleting all the social networking apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This helps you avoid checking any updates or notifications.
b) Get new distractions
You can look for better ways to distractions. This includes meditation, exercising, volunteering, reading books, playing music, or learning new skills that will keep you engaged throughout.
c) Make the last post
As you exit social media, you can make one last post to inform your friends and followers that you are quitting social media for good. This goes a long way in helping your friends know you are taking a new change.
d) Save photos and important information
There is a high chance that you will still need the photos and information you had online. Therefore, before quitting it is important to save some of the information for your own use.
e) Quit with a friend
Social media detox is more effective when you do it with a close friend and relative so that you encourage one another. You can look for someone with a similar goal and leave social networking apps together as a Team.
f) Get alternative sources of news and information
You can try and get news and the latest happenings from newspapers, newsletters, and other sources other than social media
g) Get yourself mentally ready to quit
Just like drug addiction, social media addiction has some side effects including boredom, missing out, and stress. However, you do not need to give up you can overcome it in a matter of time.
Taking time off social media may not be a walk in the park, you can make it gradual and over time you will overcome and reduce the time you spend on social networks.