Social media addiction is real. Try to work out how much time you’ve spent scrolling aimlessly down newsfeed after newsfeed rather than doing something productive… it doesn’t bear thinking about!
After recently speaking to author Orianna Fielding in Is Your Mobile Phone Brainwashing You, we realised how much of an impact smartphones had on our everyday lives. But what are the warning signs that we really should step away from social media?
You Feel Anxious Without It
If you breathe a sigh of relief at being reunited with your smartphone after a meeting or feel the constant need to check for updates, you could probably benefit from a digital detox. Facebook is an addictive platform. When the habit of looking at your phone feels compulsive, you need to re-evaluate your relationship with social media.
According to a study made by Anxiety UK, 55% of participants said they felt “worried or uncomfortable” when they were unable to log onto their social media accounts.
You might argue that social media’s intrinsic to everyday life – I need to constantly check my phone so I don’t miss anything. But once it starts to impact your health, behaviour and relationships with others, you need to do something about it.
Tell tale signs you’re a social media addict in the making include: spending hours browsing, sacrificing sleep for social media and checking-in, reporting and uploading photos whenever possible.
You Value Online Friends Greater Than Real Ones
Ironically, social media can make us antisocial. We’ve all been there, sat with friends at dinner and their eyes are glued to a screen. If you find yourself overly preoccupied with the activity of your online buddies – reassuring them through ‘likes, retweets and comments’ rather than enjoying the company of your actual friends; you need to switch off.
It goes without saying; face-to-face encounters are far more fulfilling and enriching to your life. In the study ‘Comparing the Happiness’ made by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, they confirmed that “not only are people more content with a large network of friends, but interacting with them in real life can make you even happier.”
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for social media. If relentless scrolling is compromising your social life, consider going cold turkey.
You’re Worried About Your Digital Image
We all feel a little self-conscious from time to time. But if you’re losing sleep over your digital image, something isn’t quite right. According to Anxiety UK, “social media can increase feelings of inadequacy.”
Furthermore, from their study they found that the 51% of participants who said their lives were worsened by social media also “reported feeling less confident after comparing their achievements against those of their online friends.”
Don’t miss out on real life experiences for the sake of taking a killer Instagram photo – the likes aren’t worth it. Professor Jessica Vitak from the University of Maryland reminds us that people tend to “selectively portray primarily positive content about one’s life” so don’t overthink what others are posting and enjoy the moment.
If for you, social media isn’t a place to interact and communicate with friends, but a medium through which you need to portray the best possible version of yourself, take a step back.
Your Job Is Suffering
People turn to social media for different reasons, perhaps to vent, escape or distract themselves from a boring task. But once your social media use starts to impact your productivity, it’s time to log out. According to Chron, “Facebook shaves 1.5% off office productivity” and that “British companies lose 2.2 billion a year to excessive social media use.”
Facebook and Twitter can be huge distractions. If your career is suffering at the hands of social media, limit your scrolling time to lunch, only.
You Feel Tense
The lack of social cues can make many feel uneasy about social media – did that last post sound right, why has nobody liked my photo? And as a result, you start to feel tense and stressed out about your online presence. Professor Jessica Vitak refers to it as a “context collapse” when the availability of fewer social cues “leads to messages being misinterpreted.”
This unsurprisingly can have a negative effect on your mental health, causing you to obsess over and exaggerate certain situations. Put the smartphone down and forget about it.
You Prize Social Media Over Everything Else
If Facebook is your Holy Grail: the first thing you look at in the morning and the last thing you look at at night; think about cutting down. We’re not disputing that social media comes with amazing benefits. But once you start to rely on it for pretty much everything, you need to think about dedicating your ‘me time’ to something else.
Facebook addiction is a genuine problem. Norway’s University of Bergen has even published the “Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale” that enables users to compare their social media habits against what’s healthy and what’s not.
The scale asks if you spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook, if you’ve tried to cut down without success and if you feel an urge to use the platform more and more. If you answered yes to these, you’re definitely making Facebook a higher priority than it should be.