Addiction usually refers to compulsive behavior that
leads to negative effects. In most addictions, people feel compelled to
do certain activities so often that they become a harmful habit, which
then interferes with other important activities such as work or school.
In that context, a social networking addict could be considered someone
with a compulsion to use social media to excess.
If you want to know whether you are a social
media addict, look at how you live your life and how you spend your time.
Social media addiction can be considered a habitual disorder and the signs can
be identified from what you do each day. Some of the common symptoms include anxiety
in the absence of internet connection, depression due to constant comparison with
peers and procrastination.
Our reward area located in the midbrain,
and its pathways, affect our decisions and sensations. When we experience
something rewarding, neurons in the principal
dopamine-producing areas in the brain are activated, causing
dopamine levels to rise. Therefore, the brain receives a “reward” and
associates the drug or activity with positive reinforcement.
Social media has grown and become a big part of our daily living
and without control, social media can overtake and control your life.
Most people underestimate how social media can influence
and affect their lives.
However, we can always take steps and turn around the clock before it is too late.
Turn off your notificiations
When you stop notifications from disturbing your normal routine,
you might find it easier to concentrate on your daily tasks and not get
distracted so easily. Notifications are a constant reminder that something
is happening in the online world and you might feel like you're missing out.
So to quell your FOMO, turn off your notifications. The bonus is, when you
do come around to checking your social media, you may have a build up of
more notifications which will make it more exciting and will make the
experience more rewarding.
Set a timer on your watch or phone, to limit the amount of time you
spend on social media. Choose a limit depending on the severity of
your addiction – say an hour a day, which equates to seven hours per
week – and whenever you check your accounts, start your timer going.
When you reach your limit, be strong and don't be tempted to add on
extra time. This will be a strong test of your willpower, but it will
be worth it in the end.
Make It A Treat
Look at social media as a treat. You might not buy an artisanal
coffee everyday or get your nails done every week, but you may reward
yourself with these kinds of small treats when you feel like you
deserve it. So think of social media in the same way: only allow
yourself screen time when you've achieved something or you've done
something productive first. This way you might change the way you
think about social media.
Go Cold Turkey
Depending on how bad things have gotten, it might be time to go
cold turkey. If you're spending more time on social media than
you are interacting with people in real life, give yourself a
reality check by having a holiday from social media. Decide how
long it's going to be, inform your friends online how long you'll
be away and how they can reach you if they need you in person,
and delete your apps. If you normally spend a minimum of two hours
on social media per day, you will have an extra fourteen hours per
week which are totally free to do whatever you want with – you
could even setup your own small business or get a part-time job
with all your newly freed up time!
Get A New Hobby
You may have a lot more free time on your hands now that you're
trying to cut down on your social media usage, so why not pick
up a new hobby to fill your spare time? You could learn a new
skill or do something you've always wanted to do but never had
the time. You'll probably surprise yourself at how much free time
you have when you stop mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed.
Plus your new hobby will keep your mind and hands preoccupied when
you're craving social media.