Five ‘Healthy’ Social Media Habits
It can be a struggle to cultivate ‘healthy’ social media habits that allow to use these v increasingly prevalent tech tools in ways that don’t hamper our wellbeing. Innumerable research studies point to the varied physical, social, emotional and psychological effects of excessive social media usage, and perhaps the best way to work around these dangers would be to quit the platforms completely. That is of course, not always feasible, considering how our screens have become our primary means of communication and staying up-to-date with the world. There are however some simple measures that you can take to make the most of technology without the extremes of dependent and addictive behaviours.
In a 2017 TED Talk titled “Why our screens make us less happy”, psychologist Adam Alter explains how screens increasingly leech our personal time – precious hours that we could be using to pursue the things we love, building our personalities and tending to the meaningful relationships in our lives. Alter pointed to how social media (and other apps) are devoid of ‘stopping cues’ which are an inherent part of traditional media – books, magazines, newspapers all have a definitive end point or section breaks that act as cues for us to stop and do something else. Screens, on the other hand, have an endless scroll which make them highly addictive.
Moreover, recent revelations of data privacy issues only add to the potential negative consequences of social media use. So here are five simple steps that will help you review and refresh your online presence:
Clean up your feed
The things we see while scrolling are continually affecting us, even if we don’t notice. If you must use social media, the least you can do is ensure that your news feeds give you happiness and positivity as opposed to negativity. Unfollow all the people, pages and accounts that are not adding any value to your life. Don’t hesitate, even if it’s someone close to you and you’re afraid of what they may think. If their posts bring you down or incite feelings of jealousy and comparison, they don’t need a space on your screen. your mental health and emotions are far more valuable than anybody’s opinions of you, so bravely make the choices that serve you best.
Notifications are exciting but can also be an unnecessary cause of stress. They constantly demand your attention and distract you from other tasks you may be engaged in. This can invariably result in you being glued to your device even when you don’t want to. Take control of your time and turn off all social media notifications so that you only check on your accounts when you specifically want to. This will go a long way in preventing you from getting sucked into mindless scrolling every time you receive a notification of a like, comment or new post.
One habit that can transform your relationship with social media is setting a specific time for it each day and sticking to the schedule, no matter what. For instance, you may decide to reserve all your online frolicking for an hour every evening. Set a timer and log off when the hour is up, no matter how interesting things may seem. The timer will act as an extraneous stop cue that will remind you to put your phone away and do something else, whether it’s playing a sport, getting chores done, or meeting up with friends in real life. If you face problems with self-control and find that the timer is not a strong enough cue, there are tons of apps and browser extensions that you can use to limit your time on social media. Some popular ones include Offtime, Flipd, StayFocusd and Work Mode.
Don’t feed the trolls
It can be tempting to get into arguments and comment feuds with people online. Whether it’s over a social/political issue, celebrities, fashion, movies, or anything at all, debating wth strangers online or defending your own views lead absolutely nowhere except perhaps, an increase in blood pressure! There is no dearth to trolls who spread hate online, or even to people who simply spread negativity, but none of them are worth losing your peace of mind over. Feel free to use the unfollow and block features across social media platforms to ensure that you never feed into the drama that gets you down!
Have a life!
Lastly and most importantly, focus on living your real life! Devote more of your energy into meaningful relationships and activities that don’t require screens. Organise meet-ups with friends and loved ones, spend time in nature, work on being the best version of yourself. And of course, remember that you don’t need to share any of it on social media! Enjoy experiences without the pressure of wanting to share them with your followers. And even if you absolutely must post about your awesome life, try not to do it in real time at least. You can always post later (during your stipulated scroll time of the day)
Above all, remember that social media was intended to be a tool – something helpful and uplifting – so if it’s bringing you down and sucking up your time instead of making life easier and more enjoyable, recognise that there’s a problem and take action to fix it.