Do you have a social media addiction? Here’s how to tell

Does the message “You’re All Caught Up!” get your pulse racing? Can’t remember the last time your day didn’t start with a sweep of all your social profiles? Are you ‘that friend’ that can’t get through brunch without posting at least one Instagram Story?

In a world driven by likes, comments, and followers, it’s all too easy to become dependant on our trusty mobile devices. They’re our reliable boredom quenchers, ready to fill those dead hours on our long morning commutes. Even queuing for coffee has become a chance to scroll. It’s a never-ending cycle of digital consumption.

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If reaching for your phone has become as automatic as checking the time, it could be a good idea to reflect on your habits. Learn how to spot the red flags of social media addiction and discover how to develop healthy boundaries from the grips of your digital world.

1. You Sleep Next To Your Phone

It’s 2 am and your mind is racing over tomorrow’s to-do list. Before you know it, you’ve rolled over and picked up your phone and soon you realise you’ve been scrolling for nearly an hour. Sound familiar?

Keeping your mobile phone in the bedroom is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because temptation is always within arm’s reach. Whether it’s the ping of a late-night notification or a quick check of the time in the middle of the night, the blue light created from our smartphones can wreak havoc on our body clock. Once our circadian rhythm has been disrupted, our mood and metabolism are fooled into believing it’s time to rise and shine again, making it nigh impossible to fall asleep.

How to fix it: Go retro and invest in an analog alarm clock to keep by your bedside. Switch your phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode an hour before you hit the sack, move your charger to the living room and make your bedroom a non-negotiable tech-free zone.

2. You Turn On Notifications From All Your Favourite Apps

You’ve just uploaded a new ‘gram and you’re watching the likes roll in. But, have you ever stopped to think about what impact these notifications are having on your mental health, focus and productivity?

Although the rush of endorphins might feel great, constantly receiving alerts from your social networking apps can dramatically disrupt your flow and prevent you from diving into deep work. Just a quick flash of your screen with a new message or Instagram follower can be enough to draw our attention back into our phone and away from whatever we’re trying to work on.

How to fix it: Head into your phone’s settings and turn off notifications on all your social apps. And I mean ALL OF THEM. This will reduce your chances of multi-tasking and improve the quality and accuracy of the work you produce. Consider turning on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode when you’re about to get stuck into an important task to help you ward off any unwanted distractions.

3. You Reach For Your Phone At Every Opportunity

Your bestie has just skipped off to the bathroom and before you know it you’re fingers are already reaching for your smartphone. Or maybe you’re at the park with your pup and start answering a few Facebook messages while they chase their favorite furry friend?

When we find ourselves with a moment of space, social media is what most of us will head straight for. It’s an easy way to keep our mind stimulated, without having to exert too much effort. But just imagine if we spent that time reading, tuning into a good podcast or even just taking in the world around us?

How to fix it: Resist the urge to dive into your phone by actively challenging your default responses. Set yourself up for success by packing your favorite magazine or novel in your bag and download a library of podcasts to give you plenty to do besides scrolling. Remember, it takes at least 2 weeks to form a habit so don’t lose heart if you slip up at first! Keep checking in and reminding yourself of other ways to keep yourself occupied that don’t involve social media.

4. You Always Keep Your Phone Within Sight

Where is your mobile right now? On your desk? In your lap? Right in front of your fingertips?

The habit to always have our phone within eyeshot might not seem destructive, but its presence can have big impacts on our wellbeing and relationships. If every coffee date, work meeting and date night features our trusty mobile phone on the table, it’s difficult to be fully present and show up authentically for those we care about.

How to fix it: Make a commitment to yourself to keep your phone nestled in your bag at every social event for a week and see what a difference it makes to the quality of your conversations. Why not try a ‘tech-free’ day once a week and see how your state of mind and mood changes too?

This article first appeared on A Girl in Progress.


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