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Forethought

Finding balance in the social media dilemma is not an easy task!

Before the “The Social Dilemma” documentary by Netflix was released, I had already been questioning my screen time and how it was affecting my life.

How was I supposed to find a balance between social media and the other pieces of my life?

 

From my perspective, I actually find it quite scary that this is a question I even need to consider! 

 

The following post will include some information social media concerns, benefits and ways to balance your use. Also, there are some reflection questions at the bottom to help spark some mindfulness about your screen time.

Posted: June 5th, 2021

Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Intro

I will never forget the day I first heard of a break-up through text message.

 

We were eating lunch in the university cafeteria in 2006 and someone said, “My boyfriend just broke up with me.” The response from us was wondering why she did not say something sooner. Her response?

 

“I couldn’t have, it literally happened seconds ago via text!”

 

This was a shortly after I first signed up for Facebook and never could have anticipated how social media and phone use would blow up the world we already knew. We were still learning news about Afghanistan from the newspaper at the time!

 

Since then, Smartphones replaced flip phones, Tinder placed “company” at our fingertips and Instagram made taking photos of our food appealing. What a fascinating transition!

What are the Social Media Benefits?

Let’s look at the pluses that come from Smartphones…

1. Relationships with people we never would have otherwise met.

2. Easy access to news and other information.

3. Share our lives with “friends” and loved ones.

4. Create awareness, share fundraisers and promote causes.

5. Shared grief during tragedy or happiness for exciting times.

6.  Apps that help with many things such as meditation, tracking and banking, for example.

Certainly, it is undeniable that the internet has made our world more accessible for connections and information, but…

In short, if social connection is highly linked with LIFE SATISFACTION, then why are so many people feeling unhappy?

What are the Social Media Downfalls?

Where there are pros, there are cons…

1. Too much time spent on our phone.

2. Spread of false news.

3. Overstimulation from information overload.

4. Comparing our bodies and lives to what we see on the internet.

5. An increased need for validation through “likes.”

6.  Interference with sleep and time management.

6. Missed opportunities to mindfully experience our present.

These are only a few positives and negatives I could think off the top of my head. There is growing research in the field showing how impactful and powerful our phone use can be. 

What is one of my mottos? Too much of a good thing is a BAD thing…

So how can we find a balance in the social media dilemma? Keep reading for a few ways to avoid overuse of our handy little electronic devices…

(Artificial Intelligence) know what we like but they don't know what we don't know we like - or what we need. They don't know our possibilities, let alone how vast they are.

How to Find Balance in the social media dilemma

Set App Timers

Did you know that most Smartphones have a spot in “Settings” to set timers for your apps?

I use an iPhone and was super impressed by the ability to set different timers for different apps or even app genres!

This has kept me far more mindful about my use, as your phone will alert you when you are five minutes away from your time goal. I especially get lost in the vortex of TikTok without a phone reminder…

You still need to exercise self control because it is simple to jump back online, but it does keep us mindful.

Keep the Electronics Out of the Bedroom

Firstly, I can already hear the excuses echoing now… “I use it as an alarm”, “My meditation app is on there”, or “Scrolling before bed helps me sleep.”

Secondly, all of those are super valid points, but when looking toward “balance,” wouldn’t it be nice to have one space you keep electronic free? (At least for the most part…)

To clarify, I have fallen back into old habits at times, but always notice an improvement in my sleep when my phone isn’t beside me. 

So why not give it a try? Maybe purchase paper books instead of electronic and use wireless headphones for meditation or audiobooks.

If you spent the cash on an expensive tablet for reading, I feel ya, but at least turn off all notifications while you are reading away!

Turn Off Unnecessary Alerts

What makes us look at our phone the most? When the screen lights up!

What keeps us on longer? When a notification tells us there is something else to look at!

Regardless of how you may feel, it is not essential to be notified about every like, comment, share, etc. Unless it is something you may need to respond to urgently, consider turning it off.

The only notifications active on my phone are through messaging platforms and phone calls. Otherwise, I can just check out the apps later to see how relatable a post turned out. I also do not need frequent reminders from NON social media apps. 

In short, start to play around with your notifications! Does it decrease your screen time? If you miss them, maybe you are a little more hooked on your phone than you would like to be…

 

Set Up "No Phone" Times

Easier said than done for some of us.

Did you know that most phones also have a “Downtime” feature? If you have a routined schedule, you could easily set this up and try to stick to the limits you set for bedtime.

If you are a shift worker, things get a little more tricky because the times you need your phone change. With this, we can set alarms for reminders on our phones to give us a heads up to shut it down!

The other thing we can do is to just get our phones out of our site! If it isn’t an easy grab or view away, we are less likely to be picking it up for a peek.

Another option is to set times when you DO use your phone. Time how long you scroll every morning or time prior to bed. Whatever times you use the phone the most, see if you can set a timer and decrease your use.

Reflection

At the end of the day, it’s all about being mindful of our social media use. It is incredibly easy to lose track of phone time when we are finding enjoyable posts.

Check what your screen time numbers are and see if you can decrease it bit by bit…

In conclusion, there is a whole world waiting to be explored, but we can miss the connections and opportunities when there is a phone between us and the moment!

Please leave a comment below or reach out to me on social media if my post helped or resonated with you! 

Wellness Exercise

Have you been considering cutting back on screen time?

Check out these options you can try if you have a goal to to find a balance in the social media dilemma!

1. Check your current screen time numbers and set a reasonable number to lessen to. 

2. Set app timers.

3. Keep electronics out of the bedroom.

4. Turn off unnecessary alerts and notifications.

5. Set up “No Phone” times or timers for how long you WILL be on your phone.

6. Each week, check your screen time statistics and find ways to lessen the time more (That is, if you want to, of course.)

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