We have entered a new era of technological advancement, and everything is in a constant state of change.
Everyone is trying to keep up with the latest gadgets and trends, but there is a dark side.
As we become more connected than ever through our devices, we are losing our need for face-to-face interaction.
2020 has created an environment that fosters this.
The pandemic brought life, as we know it, to a stop. A lot of recreational activities have been canceled. The places we typically meet our friends are closed. If you are still employed, you might be working from home. Many of our children are attending school remotely. Everything has changed.
We adjusted to these changes by turning to our devices. Since it was not safe to see anyone outside of our family units, we became isolated. Social media started to play an even more prevalent role in our lives.
With everything else going on this year, the negative effects started to show up quickly. Emotions were high and people quickly lashed out at each other—unfriending or blocking friends they had known for years over political disagreements.
With all the unhealthy addictions out there, we may view social media as harmless. It is entertaining and a way to stay connected. However, it can lead to serious issues. Mental health issues are becoming more common in younger children, and it does not stop there.
With documentaries like “The Social Dilemma,” we are starting to understand the full scope of the issue. Social media can be used in harmful ways. Apps compete for our attention and the algorithms are effective at keeping our eyes glued to the screen.
I recently discovered the problem it had become in my daily life. As a society, we need to make some changes. Until then, we can combat the issue by starting with ourselves. If we are aware and accountable, we can do better.
Ten tips for combatting social media addiction:
1. Do not start your day by scrolling through your phone. This one is tricky to avoid. A lot of us use our phones as an alarm. We turn off our alarms and see notifications from all our various apps. Fight the urge to go through them and do something else instead.
2. Turn off all unnecessary notifications. They are almost all unnecessary. Your phone rings in case of emergencies; everything else can wait.
3. Keep it out of reach. You will not see those texts popping up if your phone is tucked away in a drawer. Once again, it has a ringer for a reason.
4. Put it away when you are spending time with people in real life. It is disturbing how often a room full of people are looking at their phones instead of each other.
5. Think before you post or comment. We too often say or do things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. Count to 10; put it away. You may not feel the same way after you calm down.
6. Do not compare your life to others. Try to remember that people typically post their highlight reel. They feature their happiest and brightest moments. Comparing that to your daily routine is not fair. No one’s life is all sunshine and roses. We all have hard times, and a lot of mundane days in between our joyful milestones.
7. Use social media in more effective ways. Join groups that resonate with your interests. Follow people who inspire you. Do not “like” posts you do not actually like. This only makes the algorithm show you more things like that.
8. Follow people who have different opinions than you. If you limit your feed to those that think the same way you do, you are allowing more separation and division at a time we need to converse, compromise, and unite.
9. Monitor screen time and set limits. There are weekly reports that show how much time you have been staring at your phone on average. I found mine to be shocking. Set a goal and give yourself incentives if you reach it.
10. If all else fails, delete the apps. If Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram are too distracting, delete them temporarily. I know one person who deletes their apps Monday-Friday to stay productive, and I know another who deletes them on the weekend for mental health purposes. This is not a one-size-fits-all type of deal—do what works for you.