This week, Youtube has rolled out a new metric that tells you how much time you’re spending on the platform. It’s part of Google’s quest to improve digital wellbeing and to nudge some more heavy users to disconnect from time to time. Facebook and Instagram announced they’ll follow Google’s example. But what’s the link between heavy social media usage and wellbeing?
Fight the FOMO
Psychological research shows that for a minority of individuals, social media can lead to genuine psychological problems such as anxiety, ADHD and addictive behavior (Andreassen et al, 2016). The Fear of Missing Out seems to create excessive checking habits in some, which smartphones enable even more.
From annoying tics…
Thankfully, excessive use is only seen in a small group of people. But let’s admit that all of us had moments where we took our social media use too far. From checking our smartphone while driving, missing parts of conversations with our friends at a restaurant because we were viewing a funny cat video… to waiting on our new photo to be liked by someone, anyone? There has been no education on how we should behave vis à vis our connected screens. Hence, we seem to have become a tad more asocial in real life while our digital personas flourish.
… Towards digital literacy
Wondering if your own social media use is detrimental to your mental health? You can ask yourself 6 questions to assess your social media use:
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
Do you often try to reduce your use of social media without success?
Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?
If you answered yes to all six questions you may be developing an addiction and it’s time to act.
If you recognize any of the above in your own behavior, there are some steps you can take to keep your social media use under control. The reason tech giants are timing your presence on your platforms is simple: limiting your time spent is the most effective way to cure your ‘social media addiction’. Turn off notifications and allow yourself to check your social media only once or twice a day. Curious about the effect this strategy will have on your own life? Try it, we dare you. And post your results on our Facebook page when you do go online 😉
- Andreassen, C.S., Billieux, J., Griffiths, M.D., Kuss, D.J., Demetrovics, Z., Mazzoni, E. & Pallesen, S. (2016). The relationship between addictive use of social media and video games and symptoms of psychiatric disorders: A large-scale cross-sectional study. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 30, 252-262.
- Andreassen, C.S., Pallesen, S., Griffiths, M.D. (2017). The relationship between excessive online social networking, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addictive Behaviors, 64, 287-293.