Social media changed how we live and connect. Lots of good things come from many people using social media. Families and friends find it much easier to stay connected. Important people, messages, and stories get noticed super fast. People can make and build things like never before. Businesses quickly and cost-effectively connect with the people they want.
But we also know there can be bad effects if we don't use social media in a kind, ethical, and responsible way. For users, it's easy to get more distracted, less focused, and less productive. Without limits, we might get bombarded with stuff from social media and other places all fighting for our attention. Content that tries too hard to persuade and people being too forceful in messages and comments can change our mood and behavior. For adults, this can be too much and stressful. But for teenagers, it can be even worse.
Social media is a big part of our daily lives, and it's here to stay. But you don't have to let it take over your life. Being aware of how much you use it, why you use it, and putting limits on your time with social media can be good for your life, health, and mind. Here are 10 ways you, as a user, can be more thoughtful and responsible with social media.
Managing Your Social Media Use
- Silence the Notifications
Let's start by turning off those buzzing notifications on your social media. Many of us fear missing out, but constant alerts create a distraction tornado from work, family, and friends. Instead, try scheduling specific times during the day (morning, afternoon, and evening) to check your notifications. This way, you won't be glued to your phone all day.
- Mind Your Minutes
When you're on social media, it's easy to lose track of time scrolling through various platforms. At the end of the day, you might realize you haven't achieved much. Recent research from the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology suggests spending only 30 minutes a day on social media can improve your overall well-being, reduce loneliness, and decrease depression. Set time limits to monitor your social media use easily, especially if you're an iPhone user. Access real-time reports and establish app time constraints.
- Purposeful Following
While scrolling through social media, pause and question, "Why am I following this person, and what's the purpose?" Take this moment to be intentional about your follows. If you can't find a good reason to follow an account, consider unfollowing. Additionally, curate your feed by avoiding accounts that spread negativity, jealousy, or comparison. Opt for individuals who contribute positivity, inspiration, creativity, joy, and hope to the world. Remember, social media algorithms shape what you see; diversify your digital world by following people from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs.
- Avoid Mindless Scrolling
Scrolling through social media is like using a slot machine for your brain. Even if your feeds are well-organized, you might still catch yourself scrolling without a purpose for hours. It's easy to fall into the trap of procrastination, comparing yourself to accounts with more followers, cooler photos, and seemingly more interesting lives. Break the cycle! Instead, directly visit the accounts or people you genuinely want to know more about. Also, clean up your feed, especially accounts you don't recognize. This approach will reduce your endless scrolling and positively impact your mindset.
- Be Wary of Clickbait
In recent years, fake news and clickbait have become significant problems. As people scroll through their feeds, catchy headlines without any context often tempt them to click on links that spread false or misleading information – this is known as 'clickbait'. Unfortunately, studies consistently show that controversial or negative headlines get the most clicks on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you're tempted to believe a 'news' headline, take a step back, check the website link, and get accurate information from reliable sources.
- Keep an Eye on Your Feelings
There are good things about social media, but some parts of it can be not so great. Humans naturally want to be around others and understand them to do well in life. Being connected with people gives a feeling of belonging, happiness, and self-worth. However, not having connections or comparing your life to others on social media can seriously harm your emotions and happiness. Be mindful of how social media affects your mood, actions, and emotions. It's easy to get caught up in the cycle of what's real and what's not. Remember, what you see on social media isn't always the whole truth. Many people use filters and effects to make things look perfect, but the truth is, nobody's perfect. Taking breaks from social media is a good idea for your emotional well-being. A digital detox gives you time to think, and renew, and encourages other activities.
- Don't Tie Likes to Your Value
It's crucial to not let the number of likes on your posts affect how you feel about yourself. Research shows that getting likes on social media can affect our brains in a way similar to winning money or eating chocolate. But in reality, the number of likes you get doesn't define you. It doesn't show how smart you are, how good-looking, or how many friends you have. Just remind yourself that you don't need approval through likes, and this can be a strong and effective mindset.
- Know Your Privacy Settings
Whether it's nosy people or potential cyber threats, it's important to keep your privacy safe on social media. Each platform has its own privacy settings, and it's crucial to understand how they work. For instance, on Facebook, you can easily control who sees your profile, posts, and photos. Keep your settings updated as platform rules change. Also, be mindful of what information is public on your profile. Even if your profiles are set to private, details like your bio, education, or employer can still be visible to the public.
- Build A Positive Digital Reputation
Think before you share on social media. Your friends, family, and future employers can all see what you post. Posting negative or controversial things can stick with you for a long time. Once it's out there, it stays. So, be careful about posting anything negative. Words have power, so follow this rule: keep your posts positive, honest, relevant, uplifting, and informative.
- Give Your Phone A Rest At Night
Trouble sleeping? Your phone might be the culprit. When it's bedtime, our brains need a break, not more information. Phones keep our minds active when they should be winding down. Even a quick look at social media can mess with our sleep. The blue light from screens stops melatonin, causing insomnia, tiredness, and irritability. If you use tech at night, set some rules. Stop screen time an hour or 30 minutes before bed. Consider leaving your phone in another room for the night. Create a bedtime routine that avoids activities leading to anxiety or insomnia. So, say goodnight to your phone, log off, and sleep well!
Social media is part of our daily lives, helping us stay connected in a big digital world. It's crucial to be mindful of our social media use. Using it responsibly is key to better mental health and a more productive, fulfilling life.