The events of this year and the various lockdown and quarantine rules imposed by countries has caused social media use to soar – 47% of internet users across 17 countries admitted their time spent on social media has increased.
We all came to be a bit too reliant on social media during lockdown. Whilst it proved a great way of staying in contact with friends and family we were otherwise unable to see, it also began to dominate our daily routine. We’d spend hours pouring over Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and, the rapidly growing platform, Tik Tok.
Now, however, the real world is beginning to open up. We’re being encouraged to spend more time outside. Face-to-face interactions (granted that they are made with caution) are even starting to become normal and regular again. No longer so isolated, and with better weather, our hours spent on social media should be plummeting.
Yet habits can be difficult to break. Even though you know that social media should no longer be such a central part of your daily routine, you may be feeling a draw to it. And that’s understandable; over lockdown, you may have developed a dependency on social media. But has this shifted to a social media addiction?
Check with yourself how many of these 7 signs of social media addiction apply to you:
The first thing you do in the morning is check social media
This also applies to when you finish the work day, or at any other point in the day when you have free time. If your first instinct is to reach for you phone, you probably have a slightly unhealthy relationship with your tech.
You check social media during the work day
Allowing sites to hinder your productivity is a direct impact of being addicted to them. We all know how the temptation of opening Facebook or Instagram in another window when stuck on a boring or difficult task, but we also all know how this never makes us feel better.
You are anxious when you cannot check your social media
You may be familiar with that feeling of a desperate need to check and refresh your social media pages. If being away from your phone or without internet, and the prospect of not being able to go on social media for a while, makes you feel anxious , it is likely that you have a social media addiction.
You are constantly checking how your posts perform…
…and you let this influence your mood. Social media should be a fun way to interact with friends, not a mind consuming task. If you are getting caught up in how many likes a post of yours is getting, it is a sign that you are placing too much weight on these interactions. If how people interact to your posts affects you emotionally, it is a desperate sign that you need to work out how to distance your sense of self from social media.
You spend a lot of time overthinking and planning your posts
If you are guilty of this, it means social media is not just taking up a lot of your time, but also much of your headspace. This is not good for mental health. You need a break and you need time to be alone with your thoughts. Allowing social media to clog up even your thoughts obstructs mental clarity and peace of mind.
You think you hear your phone buzz, when really it didn’t
You are craving the little dopamine hit you get from phone notifications so badly that your mind has imagined one. Enough said.
You neglect your own hobbies in favour of scrolling
Sometimes, instead of partaking in the analogue activities we know we enjoy, we spend the time endlessly scrolling. In doing so, we do not get the satisfaction that would have come with committing that little bit of time to this hobby. When meaningful analogue activities take a backseat, it is a sure sign that we have let our social media habits hijack our life.
So what can I do?
If any of these apply to you, or if you personally feel that you have developed an unhealthy relationship with your phone, we recommend a digital detox.
Our main point of advice is to be mindful with tech use. Stop using social media as an easy way out. Stop letting it replace one-to-one conversations, time spent working, or a hobby of yours you know you enjoy.
Each time you want to open the apps, ask yourself why, and what you will get out of it. At the beginning, it may feel like you are having to be strict with yourself, but with practicing this mindfulness will come a realisation that you have better ways to spend your time.
Social media is a fantastic tool and way to connect, but it can take its toll on us. Like anything, it should be enjoyed in moderation.