Mobile technology has vastly changed people’s behaviours. It is predicted that smartphones will be used by almost 85% of Australians in 2019. They’re simply everywhere – it is not uncommon to find people staring into their phones everywhere – from bus shelters to cafes and even the family dinner table. According to a mobile consumer survey by Deloitte, 39% of Australians say they use their phones too much. Of these people over one third are trying to reduce their use but failing to succeed.
Social media is fun to use, but undoubtedly addictive. An online social media report states that almost eight out of ten people use social media in Australia. Those aged 18-29 years are the heaviest users, and more than one-third of people check their social media more than five times a day. On the surface, this might not seem troubling. However, increasing rates of anxiety and depression are pointing to the need to reduce social media usage.
Social media is relatively recent, so there aren’t any long term studies on the effects of excessive use. But, it is always sensible to develop good habits over bad. So if you have decided that your social media usage borders on addiction, there are steps you can take.
Here are some practical ideas to have a positive relationship with social media:
Get some metrics
Better understand your screen time with features already on your phone. For iPhone and Android users, access Settings and turn on Screentime. This feature will help you better understand how much time you spend in total as well as on each app individually. A detailed breakdown can easily identify the apps you’re using as well as the daily average usage.
Set a time limit
If you’re spending too much time on, say Instagram each day, then decide to set a specific time when you will look through Instagram. Reduce the number of times you access Instagram to just two, and the length of time you spend on it. Switch off notifications too. This will prevent your day from being interrupted haphazardly. It’s a simple and easy strategy.
Take a break
Occasionally, make the conscious decision not to look at Facebook for a few days. According to research, taking some time away from Facebook can lead to lower stress levels.
Declutter your digital space.
Don’t continue following people and businesses you no longer like. Get in the habit of unfollowing people or businesses you don’t care about. Following sites unnecessarily wastes your time and serves no purpose.
Be fully present when you are with other people. Not only is it a sign of respect, but it is also about being mindful. It is hard to be mindful if your attention is diverted between your phone and somebody talking to you. So, switch off the phone and engage wholeheartedly.
Meet up with people
Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. However, make sure to meet in person with those people you interact with online. Online relationships can never take the place of actually meeting up with people. Developing meaningful connections with other people has been shown to build lasting happiness.
Role model healthy smartphone behaviour
Children watch and learn from their parents. So it makes sense that to develop good habits in children, adults must role model desirable behaviour. By setting screen time limits on social media, children learn to control their behaviour. Even if that means that you set those controls yourself with the parental features on their smartphone.
Make time for recreation
It is vital to make time for sporting or creative activities that you absolutely enjoy, In a world dominated by technology. This can really help to balance your life by putting things in perspective. So whether you enjoy salsa dancing or jogging, there are many ways to keep fit. Local clubs like the PCYC are a great place to go and check out what is available – join the boxing or gymnastics club, to beat any monotony in your routine.
Moderation is key. Social media is a fantastic tool for everyone to enjoy – just keep in mind that a little usage is good, and a lot may have some undesirable consequences.