This March may be a great time for social media spring-cleaning! Today, upwards of 56 percent of U.S. Internet users, age 14-17, use Instagram. Even more astounding, it’s been reported that we visit the Facebook app or site 13.8 times during the day, for two minutes and 22 seconds each time.
What is cause for concern is how our daily use of social platforms can negatively impact personal feelings of self-worth and confidence. One study found that half of the survey’s participants, all of whom identified themselves as social media users, reported that use of social networks made their lives worse. In particular, participants noted that their self-esteem suffered when they compared their own accomplishments to those of their online friends. For teens suffering from acne or adults plagued by acne scars, social media platforms can become another self-esteem deflator.
If you’re concerned that you, your child or a friend, is bordering on social media obsession, take time this month to clean out those habits. Here are three recommendations to consider.
- Take a break from your phone. If your phone is plugged in, so are you. Turn off your phone at night to avoid going to bed with Instagram images on your mind and waking up to instantly scan Facebook. Create morning and evening rituals that don’t include social media platforms.
- No smartphones at the table. Create guidelines in your home to help prevent excessive smartphone use that can take away from personal connection with family and friends. One great rule is: no smartphones during meals. This means no texting during lunch, checking emails at breakfast or updating Twitter at dinner.
- Engage in new hobbies. If the hours you spend mindlessly scanning the world of social updates are adding up, think about some activities you wish you were enjoying or activities you see other people sharing on Facebook and Instagram that leave you with a ping of jealousy. Then go out and do them! Sign up for a pottery class, go for a hike, visit a new restaurant, join a club sports team, start a book club—the options are endless! Getting involved will require you to be present and encourage in-person social interactions.
Above all, remember (and remind your friends and children) the number of “Likes” you receive is not an indicator of your worth or beauty. If you have any additional tips for how to prevent social media obsession, please share them on our forum!