How to beat an addiction to social media

Despite the technology being less than a decade old, social media addiction has already become a major problem.

If you, or someone you know, can’t go a few minutes without checking your social channels, here are some tips to help you stop and get your life back.

You need to protect yourself from negatively affecting your work and personal relationships. By stepping away from social media, assessing your addiction and developing healthy social media habits, you can work through the issue and create a more balanced life.

The first thing to do is admit you have a problem. Acknowledging your addiction is the first step to improving your situation. Set yourself a goal to spend less time on social channels. A simple way to assess your problem is to turn your phone off for an hour and see how you feel. If you get anxious to look at your phone, you probably have a problem.

The obvious solution to stop your addiction is to shut down your social media accounts. Just stop using them. You’ll be amazed that you can still enjoy life, the sky doesn’t fall down and the world remains unaffected. You’ll also have more time to be productive, or lazy, depending on your preference.

If shutting your accounts proves too difficult, take stock of your usage. Keep a diary of the time and frequency you spend on social channels. Even note the type of posts you read and watch. Apps like QualityTime keep track of how much time you spend on each social media site, so you can assess the extent of your addiction.

Once you realise how much time you are spending on each channel, set a time limit for each and stick to it. Then try to reduce the time limit until you are only looking at your social channels a couple of times a day at most.

Take some time to reflect on why you use social media. Does it indicate a different problem, such as a need for attention, boredom or something else? By assessing the root of your need to use social media you can address the issues and find other things to do with your time. Seek professional help if you are struggling to solve the problem on your own.

Most of us browse social media aimlessly — usually when we’re bored. To cut back, set a higher standard for logging on. Ask yourself, “Do I have a specific, positive reason for this?” If you can’t come up with one, resist the urge and do something that will boost your mood, like calling a friend or reading a book.

Ignore the temptation to send a birthday wish to one of your connections. If you feel you would never call them to wish them a happy birthday, don’t waste your time sending a digital message.

Be a strict editor and really question why you are uploading a post. Could you simply keep a notebook or diary for yourself? Why does the world need to see another photo of your baby or last night’s meal?

Another good rule to help is to ask yourself “if you wouldn’t do it offline why do it online?”