What Happens When You Quit Social Media
Here are some things, both positive and negative, that you might experience when you quit social media:
- A few days of anxiety. Using social media releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical in your brain. When you stop getting as much dopamine, it can take a few days for your brain to adjust, and you may feel anxiety.
- Reduced stress. While using social media releases dopamine, it also releases cortisol, the stress hormone. When you stop using social media, youâll feel less stressed.
- Increased productivity. Whether itâs work, homework, or a creative pursuit, you will have more time and attention for other activities and be more productive.
- Improved sleep.Endlessly scrolling through your favorite app before bedtime can take away time from your sleep schedule. Keeping your phone and other electronics out of the bedroom can help improve your sleep.
Consider Why You Check Social Media
While checking your phone and social media throughout the day seems normal, it’s a habit that we sometimes don’t realize may be compensating for something else. According to Jones, people often use social media as a form of escape from an uncomfortable feeling like boredom, loneliness or another negative emotion.
“Addiction is anything you do to escape a feeling that has a life-damaging consequence. So a lot of people will turn to social media to escape a feeling of boredom, loneliness, wasting time — whatever feeling they want to escape. The life-damaging consequences of social media addiction are that you are not present and as engaged with life,” Jones said. To see this IRL, just look around next time you’re out at dinner and chances are you’ll see a table of people staring at their phones and not talking to each other.
It’s tempting to open Instagram when you feel lonely, but it can ultimately make you feel worse.
Besides lack of engagement and presence around family, friends and coworkers, Jones says social media creates feelings of envy, which is also negative for mental health. “People are displaying filtered versions of life, which is not healthy, it’s very unrealistic,” Jones said.
Since social media can be a quick or easy fix to avoid negative feelings, you can ask yourself the following questions to evaluate what you could be avoiding and may need to address in another way in your life.
How To Break Social Media Addiction Or Spend Less Time Online
- You may be able to break a social media addiction by going on a cleanse, setting limits, and deleting apps.
- While you don’t need to abstain from social media entirely, experts say it’s important to set limits.
- This article was medically reviewed by Zlatin Ivanov, MD, who is certified in psychiatry and addiction psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology at Psychiatrist NYC.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a behavior that becomes compulsive or continues despite negative consequences. In 2017, 43% of Americans reported checking social media constantly, and 20% said social media is a source of stress.
In addition, interacting with social media can trigger a dopamine response in the brain, similar to that triggered by drug or alcohol use. That response can leave you wanting more and feeling addicted. Here’s how to fight it.
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The Case For Cutting Down Your Screen Time
At their best, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat can serve as a constant link with our friends and family. We rely on them to keep us connected and up-to-date, while giving us the opportunity to share both validation and inspiration .
That said, digital overstimulationespecially in a time when up-to-the-minute information is free and unfilteredis taking a toll on our health, both mentally and physically. A study from the University of Pittsburghs Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health found that using multiple social media platforms increased the risk of depression and anxiety in participants, especially among those using seven to 11 platforms, compared to peers who used no more than two.
And apparently, were conscious of at least some of these negative side effects of social media addiction. In a recent survey about New Years resolutions, the number one goal reported by respondents for the year ahead was to quit social media, easily beating out old standbys like quitting smoking and losing weight.
If youre reading this and thinking to yourself, I need a break from social media, weve got you covered. Here are 10 expert-approved strategies to help you spend less time on social media and more time enjoying your life.
Prevents Depression Anxiety And Psychological Distress
The authors of a 2019 study note that common social media behaviors, such as constantly checking for messages, and addictive use of social media are risk factors for anxiety, depression, and psychological distress. However, they also highlight that there are limitations to the research and that further study is necessary.
Similarly, a 2021 study found that social media use is associated with a subsequent increase in self-reported depression symptoms.
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Enjoy Your Digital Detox
Theres no magic formula for breaking your social media habit. In fact, its pretty hard work!
However, by blocking apps, rewarding yourself for cutting down, taking pride in your newfound productivity, and reconnecting with the non-virtual world youre more likely to severe your addiction to social media for good.
What are your favorite tips for setting a limit to your social media use? Let us know in the comments!
Why I Decided To Quit Social Media
I look at social media as this supermassive black hole thats sucking you in with more and more content. And in most cases, the content is really not that valuable. Then somehow you get distracted by more and more useless content and waste your precious time.
One day I caught myself watching cat videos on YouTube instead of quickly checking the latest TED talkThen I looked at my watch and realized I had done this for one hour. Thats 60 MINUTES OF CAT VIDEOS! Whats even worse I was sitting at my desk in the office during WORK HOURS doing this.
This is when the reality hit me and I realized how messed up this was. And I felt awful, spending the rest of the day resenting my precious time being lost. FOREVER. So I went on a hunt for a solution.
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Social Media Addiction Signs
Social media addiction is no easy thing to quantify, but there are some very clear signs check off how many of these signs of social media addiction you are guilty of.
How many were applicable to you? If you recognised yourselves in any of these signs, dont be alarmed. In fact, many of us will find ourselves exhibiting behaviour patterns and tendencies of someone addicted to social media, and all of these have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.
So what can we do? Beating social media addiction is not something that can be done overnight it requires a reevaluation of your digital-life balance, and this is something personal to you. However, whilst only you can figure this out, there are some steps you can take to reduce your use of and dependency on social media, and to help you take control back from the tiny tyrant that is the smartphone.
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Be Meticulous About Who You Follow And What You Post And Share
A business that is not careful about who it chooses to follow and what it chooses to share could end up with a huge social media footprint. A good example of this problem is the company that called attention to the fact that they were following as many people as possible on social media. This proved to be a mistake the company ended up having a huge amount of followers and even had a significant number of posts shared.
So, make sure youre paying attention to who you choose to follow or share, and what you share or post on your social accounts. If you want something really specific in your social media footprints, look for companies that have highly engaged audiences on Twitter and Facebook.
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Dedicate Free Time To Hobbies
Instead of getting to social media when you are free, dedicate that time to hobbies and activities that you love.
Think of things that can bring joy to your life before getting lost in refreshing your newsfeed. With curbing social media addiction, it’s best to find something better to do. Learn the things you have always wanted to do but didn’t have time for. You can learn new skills that you are passionate about, like cycling, roller skating, knitting, playing guitar, or cooking. You can also do things you love, like reading. The idea here is to spend your free time doing things you love and that are beneficial. Doing this will surprise you with how much time you’ve wasted on social media.
Psychologists say spending your time doing something you love or learning a skill will keep off your urge to check out social media. And while doing all that, resist the urge to share your progress on social media platforms.
The Life Changing Magic Of A Social Media Break
If I told you that taking a social media break would change your life, would you believe me?
Hear me out.
Its estimated that between 5 10% of Americans are addicted to social media, which the Addiction Center defines as:
a behavioral addiction that is characterized as being overly concerned about social media, driven by an uncontrollable urge to log on to or use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other important life areas.
Clearly, social media is designed to keep us coming back again and again.
If you feel like youre spending more time on it than you should, you arent alone. Its also not your fault directly. Social media is engineered to keep you coming back for more, increasing your dependency on it over time.
But knowing you need to break away from social media and actually doing so are two different things.
Lets talk about how to take a break from social media.
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Be Realistic When Setting Goals
Instead of quitting social media cold turkey, Potter suggests making micro-commitments in a gradual weaning process. Make these goals realistic and attainable, she says. These might include declaring a 30-minute social media time-out while at work, or setting aside an entire day as a social media blackout. It might even be as simple as limiting yourself to checking your phone during your morning coffee breakwhatever it takes to rein-in the habit.
Social Media Detox Tools
If you need a little help detoxing from social media here are a few free tools you can use:
- StayFocusd Chrome Extension This is the perfect tool if you use Google Chrome as your web browser and want to remove the temptation of checking Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Instead of helping you do a full detox, this extension works to your Facebook usage more sane by removing the News Feed and replacing it with a quote.
- OurPact Block social media apps from your phone! Originally created for parents to control their kids phone usage, but its also good for adults who cant stop themselves.
If you find your life revolving around being on social media, you may just find that taking a break and putting some rules in place will greatly impact your relationships, improve time management abilities, and productivity levels for the better.
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Social Media Addiction In Teens
Teens are in a unique stage of development in which they are forming their own identities. With social media being a popular form of self-expression and identity formation, teens are particularly susceptible to excessive use of social media. Attention-seeking behavior is a common occurrence here as well.
Teenagers are spending an average of three hours a day on social media, and teens with problematic use may easily spend double to triple that amount of time.6 When teens spend five hours or more on social media sites per day, they are twice as likely to show depressive symptoms than their peers.6 Despite this research, it is important to proceed with caution, as correlation does not mean causationit is also possible that teens with mental health struggles are using more social media in order to ease their suffering and feel more connected with those who also have mental health issues. In either case, intervention is appropriate.
The Effects Of Screen Addiction On Teenagers
Screen addiction is a real and growing problem among teenagers. Teens who are addicted to screens, particularly social media, can suffer from a number of negative effects, including sleep problems, poor school performance, social isolation, and anxiety.
To address this problem, parents and educators need to encourage teens to reduce their screen time. This can be done by setting boundaries on screen use, promoting positive activities that do not involve screens and social media, and providing support to help teens manage their screen addiction.
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Come Back To The Real World
It can seem like the digital world is all there is to life. Time to unplug! By making more of an effort to live in the moment youll rediscover how good life is offline.
So, if its someones birthday give them a call instead or even better, try and meet up. Get the members of your group to chat together for lunch at the weekend. Go for coffee with a co-worker during your lunch break instead of sitting on your phone. Youll quickly realize that its much more rewarding!
When we post a photo or a status update, we quickly lose focus on our experience and begin to think about how people will react to it instead. One of the best ways to become unplugged is to reflect on our experiences in different ways. Keep a scrapbook of your favorite photos or write a journal with your thoughts this way youll treasure the moment instead of worrying about what other people think!
Experiment #: The Social Happy Hour
The next experiment I tried was dedicating a specific hour of my day completely for use on social sites. I set up a calendar invitation from 4-5pm: a happy hour at the end of the work day to connect, enjoy, and run across new people and ideas after nearly 12 hours of working or parenting.
Results: Creating a built-in stress relief hour where I know that I can slide into social research and browsing , helped me avoid temptation at other hours of the day. It was easier to replace a bad habit with a better one than to focus all my energy on eliminating the bad habit.
- Strangely, consolidating all of my social media use into a single hour made it seem less exciting. I noticed that Id be finished scrolling within 20 minutes, or 30 minutes on a long day. Theres only so much sustained reading and commenting that I can do.
- I was much more efficient at responding to all of the requests that come my wayrather than have metered out conversations trickling through the day, I buckled down, opened up new browser tabs for each meaningful mention or request, and whipped through it.
- My content creation went way down. Instead, I began to plan ahead with a loose Evernote file for social media status updates and things I wanted to share, and the 12-hour delay between composing and pressing publish gave me a better chance to reflect on whether instant-sharing was really still necessary.
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The Negative Effects Of Social Media At Work
The habit of just quickly checking social media is something we all are guilty of. And all would be good if quickly would actually mean quickly, but it rarely does.
Social media is a form of entertainment and, unless a part of your job, becomes a major distraction. And the whole world knows that one of the biggest threats to workplace productivity is distractions .
Not to mention this distraction can slowly grow into a bad habit. And bad habits tend to turn into an addiction. And you dont want social media addiction controlling your work day, do you?
The Impact Of Social Media Addiction
An immediate consequence of excessive social media use is that it takes away from time spent elsewhere. This includes time with family and friends, and engaging in hobbies and exercise. It may also begin getting in the way of important life obligations and productivity. As this happens, it is likely that others will begin noticing, and relationships will become compromised.
Excessive social media use may also sway your ability to independently make decisions.6,7 Since peer pressure in face-to-face situations has been known to have this effect as well, its no surprise that social media can have the same impact. People either begin questioning themselves or want to just go with the flow when the majority believes something different. Although children and teenagers are generally more likely to be swayed by peer pressure, this happens with adults as well.
Social media platforms also intentionally use advertising strategies specific to someones demographics and desires to update news feeds with specific information enticing to that individual. Although this helps fund the platform, it also makes it harder for the individual to lessen or abstain from engagement.
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