3 Ways to Overcome Social Media Addiction
I wonder how many times we find ourselves sitting still in a waiting room, coffee shop or even in our seat before a church service...bored. We look around and see everyone else on their phones, so we pick ours up as well. We open our social media platform and start to scroll. What things go through your mind in this moment?
Here's a little glimpse of some things that have gone through mine:
Scroll, scroll, scroll. They went to dinner last night? I wish I could have gone with them.
Scroll. Man, that place looks exotic. How does she have the money and time to traipse the world like she does? My life is so boring.
Scroll. Aww! Those pics are so cute. I'm such a terrible mom. I have such a hard time scheduling family pics because I don't want to "torture" my boys to make them happen. I guess we just won't have any memories.
Scroll. She has a bazillion followers. Why don't people like me that much? What's wrong with me? What would my life be like if I had as many followers as her?
When something interrupts my session with social media, I close my app and wonder why I just tortured myself. I thought connecting with friends would give me more life, but sometimes I feel more abnormal and left out than when my mind was occupied by it's own thoughts, sitting still. Maybe you don't have the same thoughts as I do, but I'm sure we've all suffered those moments when we wonder why we gave an app so much control over our thought life. I don't believe social media is the enemy, but I do think we need to be aware of how it is affecting us.
Social Media is not the enemy
When I was in middle school, our TV busted. We decided not to replace it because Christian culture was preaching that television was a tool of Satan to destroy the universe. It would be tempting to say that social media is also a tool of Satan, but but I don't think we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. In fact, some studies have proven many people are learning how to connect and socialize through social media. Studies have also shown that too much time with social media causes damage to our minds. As a believer, I believe I am responsible with how I treat and care for my mind, body and soul since I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes our hardships come from our enemy, but very often our choices invite his destruction into our lives. So, I want to provide you with three ways you can fight against social media addiction.
Recongnize Social Media Is a lousy therapist
Have you ever thought social media would cheer you up when you are feeling disconnected or melancholy? Me too! However, studies have shown that it can actually cause feelings of depression and anxiety. When we are lonely, our mind and body are telling us to connect, but instead of picking up the phone to talk with someone, we pick up our phones for social media therapy. We think looking through our feed will connect us to the people we love, but very often we close our apps more discouraged. Research has shown a variety of reasons social media is a lousy therapist. Here are just two.
Social Media can lead to comparison and dissatisfaction
"A recent study found that users of social media might experience increased levels of social dissatisfaction and unhappiness as a result of comparing their happiness and popularity to that of their friends" (Medical News Today). In other words, if we do not take our thoughts captive while we are scrolling, we might start to believe that popularity makes us happy; that more followers and likes will give us true satisfaction. But we know true joy comes from fellowship with Jesus and each other (I John 1:1-4).
Social Media Can cause Anxiety and depression
Over the past several years, I've noticed in my traveling and speaking that it feels like people are struggling with anxiety and depression in epic proportions. I'm wondering if our unwise use of social media is one cause. Studies show that "kids who spent more time on social media, and particularly those who used it more at night, had poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of anxiety and depression. (The Doctor Will See You Now). In fact, "people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void" (Medical News Today). Do you see the addiction element here? Although social media is hurting our minds, bodies, and souls, we are still going back for more. This is why we have to teach ourselves that social media is a lousy therapist.
Remember Social Media isn't Reality
The second way to overcome social media addiction is to remember social media isn't reality. Technology is an incredibly useful form of connection, but it need not be our primary form. If we feel intimidated by a face to face connection, it can be tempting to hide behind an app, but computers aren't able to give us a full perspective. Social media shows us what people want to present about themselves, but real life interaction gives us a full story, and therefore the full person. Have you ever gotten tired of the typed words and just wanted to see their eyes and expressions- in person? When we can feel and touch one another we feel a connection with them. And for me, when someone looks into my eyes or grabs my hand in prayer, the reality of their words and compassion hit me in a way that words on a page cannot.
- Ephesians says we are not alone, but members of God's household. And we are being put together, growing into a holy temple. We need each other to grow and to build the kingdom of God here on earth. Ephesians 2:17-22
- Hebrews says that since we have been redeemed and cleansed from our sins, we should watch out for one another to provide love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, but encouraging each other. Hebrews 10:19-24
Reform Your Habits with Social Media
The third way we fight social media addiction is to reform our habits. When I noticed social media was creating unhealthy thoughts in my mind, I decided to fight back. Here are a few habits I've developed.
- Only Engage When You're Feeling Healthy- If I'm tired, lonely, or busy I usually only open my apps to post, not to engage.
- Think About What You're Thinking- Pay attention to what is running through your mind (what thoughts you are feeding and believing). If they become discouraging or negative, close your app without hesitation.
- Choose to Unfollow- If someone's feed is damaging to your overall well-being, unfollow them. But what if they unfollow you? Then they unfollow you. What if they get their feelings hurt? Tell them the truth- I have a hard time following you because I end up comparing myself. Or, it's hard for me to follow you because I'm jealous of all the places you get to go.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, who is an expert on the mind, has two amazing podcasts explaining the effects of Social media on the brain. She explains that whatever you focus on grows your brain. So, if you're spending large amounts of time on social media, you're growing your brain with the things you're absorbing. You should check our her podcasts, (Episode 6 and Episode 7), but until you do, here are two of her tips.
- Plan Out Technology Usage: 8 hours is a long time to be on technology and can be damaging to the mind if we are not using it in the correct way. Therefore, we must measure both our business and personal use and limit how we are consuming digitally. For example, use your computer/iPad for working, and in off times use the phone to build the brain, doing things like talking to family or for reading.
- Give Your Mind the Opportunity to Connect: Your mind is complicated, so you need to read and meditate on articles instead of flicking back and forth. Constant scrolling damages the mind because our brains are designed for deep thinking. Instead of flicking and scrolling, choose to make a selection, read and meditate on a post.
How do you fight Social Media Addiction?
I'd love for you to comment on the tricks you use to keep your social media use healthy. Thanks for reading, and if you think someone could benefit from this article, I'd love for you to share it! I pray you keep moving forward in your faith until we talk again!
I hope this article was as challenging and enlightening for you as the research has been for me. I've provided multiple links to resources for further study, as well as articles I used for this blog.
- Overcoming Monday Podcast on Social Media with Jessica Fralin
- Jessica's Book: Is Social Media Stealing Your Identity?
- How modern life affects our physical and mental health
- Social media use and depression linked in large study
- 10 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health
- Social Media's Emotional Cost
- Social Media May Be More Harmful to Girls Than Boys, Study Finds
- Psychological Impact of Social Networking Sites: A Psychological Study
© 2018 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.