Social media has changed many aspects of our lives - the way we communicate, how we do business, how we get our daily news and much more. There is no question that there are many positives that we derive from social media. However, there are some negatives that we should be aware of. Excessive social media use can create a variety of issues - feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression, envy, cyber bullying amongst youth, withdrawal from the real world, reliance and in some cases full blown addiction.
There are several studies that suggest the more we use social media, the less happy we seem to be. One such study done several years ago found that Facebook use was linked to both less moment-to-moment happiness as well as less overall life satisfaction—the more people used Facebook in a day, the more these two variables dropped off. The authors suggest this may have to do with the fact that Facebook can lead to a perception of social isolation and in some cases inferiority, in a way that other solitary activities do not. There are also many theories that suggest that when we compare ourselves to others it often does not serve us well.
Rather than eliminating social media consumption entirely a more balanced approach is more likely to yield greater success.
Use a time limit. A good rule to observe is to limit social networking to times when the day’s work is complete. Avoid taking breaks from your work to use social media as it is very easy to get caught up in searches and reading - you can easily find that two or three hours have flown by and you are still online while other aspects of your life are neglected. For this reason, setting a hard time limit in advance on how long you will use your social media is helpful.
Change the notifications settings. It is easy to develop a reliance on social media when you are constantly receiving notifications on your phone. To address this, you can easily edit the notification settings on your phone, or within the application, so that you do not receive alerts but can instead check the application at your leisure at an appropriate time.
Limit your memberships. To limit the total time you spend checking these sites, you can choose to delete a few of them and keep only the ones you value most.
Avoid posting about your every move. Enjoy experiences and resist the urge to photograph or post about every moment in your life. Be present and enjoy the people and circumstances that surround you.
Call instead of checking in on social media. Many of us have developed a reliance on social media and use it as a communication tool. It is easy to forget that once upon a time rather than emailing, texting, or direct messaging we used to pick up the phone and call. Speaking by phone is more personal and can be time saving.
Write a list of things you could be spending your time on. Keep in mind that every minute that you spend on social media takes away from your involvement in other activities. These can include hobbies, playing an instrument, spending time with friends, exercising, reading a book, or a myriad of other activities. Social media should be used as a tool that can make our lives easier and more enjoyable, rather than employing an all or nothing approach. A few guidelines and minor adjustments can reduce your reliance and free up time for true connection and more valuable experiences.