Becoming a social “lite”

Your social-media habit has turned into an addiction. Now what? Here are some ways to cut back.
Many of us spend a lot of time on social media. Perhaps too much time. Of course, social media is neither all good nor all bad. It can help people connect. It’s a way for families and friends to share slices of life, photos, and information with each other with ease. That’s where social digital technology excels.But we’re talking about other ways we use social media – the addictive ways.

The range of fixations can be broad. Maybe it’s hours spent lapping up videos of furry pups and flash mobs or searching for just the right meme. Maybe it’s doom-scrolling news that makes it hard to get to sleep. These habits may not just lead to wondering where the weekend went — for some, they lead to growing feelings of envy, depression, and dissatisfaction with their lives.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Many want to quit using social media entirely. Others want to seriously cut back the amount of time they spend on it. It might be time to set some limits for yourself—or take a true break from social media. You might find that you feel better, less lonely and less anxious.

An article in PC Magazine discusses how to cut back. It suggests that people may want to leave social media briefly to focus on life offline, or to walk away for an extended time and see what the results are. “Or you could take a more balanced approach and keep social media in your life but get better at managing how much time you spend on it.” Going cold turkey isn’t the only way to help yourself.

According to PC Magazine, there are four basic steps to help you cut back:

  • Decide in advance what kind of relationship you want to have with social media.
  • Put rules in place for yourself.
  • Create obstacles that give you pause before you deviate from your rules.
  • Stick to your intentions.

Taking a break or limiting your activity on social media may improve your mental health. A study titled “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression” in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, says it can. University of Pennsylvania undergraduates were asked to keep their social media use limited to 10 minutes a day for each platform (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat) for a period of three weeks.

The results were startling. The participating group showed “significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring.”

As that study shows, sometimes less is best. Limiting the time you spend scrolling social media benefits your well-being. You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, would you?

“It takes discipline not to let social media steal your time.” – Alexis Ohanian