Tips for Preventing Social Media Addiction

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Social media is one of the most powerful tools that we use every day, connecting us to the world and the people around us. Even we, at the Providence Project, use social media daily to connect with our Alumni and read messages from people looking for help and advice. However, despite its many benefits, it can also be highly addictive, distracting us from what is happening around us and preventing us from truly connecting.

While it is easy to fall into the trap of scrolling through social media platforms for hours on end, feeling the same pleasure associated with gambling or cocaine, in the end, many are left feeling unproductive and disconnected from the world around them. If you are in this category, this article is for you, because here we’ll share some tips from our experts on how to break social media addiction.

Why Is Social Media Addictive?

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The addictive nature of social media can be attributed to a number of different factors. One of the primary reasons is the release of dopamine that occurs when you receive likes or comments on your posts, the same that is released during alcohol, cocaine, or drugs. This rush of dopamine creates a sense of pleasure that can quickly become addictive. Besides, social media platforms are designed to keep you engaged, using tactics such as infinite scrolling and notifications to keep you hooked. According to a recent study by Stanford Medicine, excessive use of social media which can also be referred to as problematic social media use is as addictive and dangerous as drug addiction or substance abuse.

When abusing these platforms, we spend excessive amounts of time to the detriment of their personal and professional lives. We may even experience feelings of anxiety or depression when we can’t access them and may prioritise social media use over other activities or responsibilities.

The Negative Effects/Downsides of Social Media Addiction

While social media can be enjoyable, there are many negative consequences that can occur from abusing our access to these websites and applications. These include:

  1. Neuroticism and anxiety: Various studies have shown that excessive use of social media can lead to higher levels of neuroticism, anxiety, and even depression. This is likely due to the constant comparison that occurs on social media, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
  2. Eating disorders: Social media has been linked to a higher risk of eating disorders, particularly in young people. This is because social media can create an unrealistic standard of beauty that can be harmful to those who do not meet those standards.
  3. Reduction in grey matter: Research has shown that excessive use of social media can lead to a reduction in grey matter in the brain, a type of cell death seen in cocaine addicts. This can have a negative impact on cognitive function and overall mental health.
  4. Cognitive effects: Social media addiction has been linked to a number of cognitive effects, including a reduction in memory retention and the ability to concentrate.
  5. Anger: Social media can be a breeding ground for anger and hostility, particularly in the form of cyberbullying. This can have a negative impact on mental health and overall well-being.
  6. Increased suicide risk: According to studies by Current opinions in Psychiatry, OR 2.57, 95% CI 1.69–3.90 adolescents with suicidal thoughts, behaviours, and attempts are linked to excessive use of social media.
  7. Distraction from surroundings: Perhaps one of the most obvious downsides of social media addiction is the way that it can distract us from connecting with real people around us. For instance, always being conscious to share only your best photos on social media with the intention to trend or get likes and comments can erode your sense of enjoyment.
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Tips for Preventing Addiction to Social Media

Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to prevent social media addiction and ensure that you are using these platforms in a healthy way. These include:

Delegate Social Media to a Separate Device

By using a separate device for social media, you can ensure that you are not constantly checking your feeds and getting distracted by notifications. Do not allow them to stress you aggressively by sending you push notifications and messages all the time. Only access your socials from your home computer, for example.

Consider the Real Benefits

One important question you should ask yourself is “what are you getting out of using social media? If the benefits outweigh the negative influence. It’s also important to be aware of the tactics that social media companies use to keep users engaged.

Know When to Tune In

It’s important to be mindful of when you are using social media and to ensure that you are not using it as a way to avoid other tasks or responsibilities.

Freeze Your Application

Some mobile devices have a super cool feature that lets you temporarily freeze apps you don’t use often or those that distract you with constant notifications. This can help you take a break from social media and refocus your attention on things that really matter.

Self-Control

Practising self-control can be an effective way to prevent social media addiction. This can include setting limits on the amount of time you spend on social media and being mindful of your behaviour when you are using these platforms.

Spend More Time with Your Friends Offline

Another potent way to limiting social media or prevent addiction to social media is to spend more time with friends offline. This can involve planning outings or activities that don’t involve social media, such as going for a hike or playing board games.

Turn off Your Social Media Notifications

Another effective strategy is to turn off notifications for social media apps. This can help reduce the constant urge to check your phone for updates and prevent you from getting sucked into the endless scrolling loop. You can also set specific times during the day to check your social media accounts, rather than constantly checking throughout the day.

Final Thoughts

Social media addiction is a real problem that can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health. While the tips and strategies discussed in this article can prevent addiction, sometimes you need more specialised help to break free from the grip of social media. However, if you are still worried about your or a loved one’s social media abuse, we can help you. At the Providence Projects we have some amazing therapists who have experience in compulsive behaviours and process addictions. While you may not recognise your abuse of these platforms as a problem, the very fact that you are researching the topic is good enough reason to contact us. We can get you assessed right away.

Social media is one of the most powerful tools that we use every day, connecting us to the world and the people around us. Even we, at the Providence Proj...
Social media is one of the most powerful tools that we use every day, connecting us to the world and the people around us. Even we, at the Providence Proj...