The Social Media Threshold: When is it Harmful?
In 2017, the average mobile usage increased to 3.3 hours per day. That’s a whopping 23.1 hours per week! I know, right? Just imagine how productive you’d be if those hours went toward other activities instead.
In addition to that, 30 or more minutes spent on social media per day is associated with a higher risk of mental health issues. On top of that, teens who were on social media for 3 or more hours a day were shown to have a 60% higher risk of developing mental health issues.
And I get it - 3 hours sounds like a ton of time. But spread those 3 hours over the course of a day… that’s only about 8 minutes per hour. It adds up.
Let me lay this all out before we fully dive in.
Am I Using Social Media Too Much?
I’m definitely not anti-social media. There are benefits to it, In fact, I’d probably categorize myself as a fairly frequent poster, meaning I tend to post pictures 2-3 times a month. Most of my usage comes down to keeping in touch with loved ones whether they are close to home or far away.
And I have to admit, I do get that kick of dopamine when those likes roll in - who doesn’t?
Making a Change
Recently, I decided to make small changes to reduce my social media habits by leaving my phone at home or in my bag and wearing a watch so I wasn’t constantly checking my phone for the time. After all, the only time I use social media is on my phone.
The result? During this time, I have to admit that I’ve never felt more present in my entire life. It got me thinking… Am I using my phone too much? How often am I on Instagram or Facebook?
I Checked My Stats.
My average amount of time on Instagram was about 42 minutes a day. I was a bit blown away - a bit ashamed. I thought I barely used it. And I know it’s far from 3 hours, but I was thinking about how I could clean my entire place in that timeframe, about how I could finish an article for a client in that duration, or about how I could get my workout in within that time frame.
It felt wasteful and unreal, so I started doing some digging.
My inquiry lead me on a search to answer these two questions, namely “what is the social media threshold?” and “how do we define when it becomes harmful?”
The Social Media Threshold
So, here’s the hard truth.
The social media threshold often depends on the person. It relates to various factors.
Determining Your Social Media Threshold
Ask yourself these questions.
- How long are you using social media per day?
- Do you use it every day?
- Do you rely on it for confidence boosters?
- Do you find yourself absent mindedly reaching for your phone to scroll through Instagram or Facebook when you did that about 5 minutes ago?
- Experts claim that social media becomes a mental health issue when you internalize it.
It becomes problematic when you start comparing yourself to others - when you think someone’s highlight reel is reality. The line becomes blurry.
The Cons of Too Much Social Media Use
It’s a sad fact that when you see fitness models on Instagram most people internalize that they need to look a certain way. You see someone always going out for luxurious meals so you become convinced you should be able to afford the same. You see that girl or guy that dresses to the nines and think you need to look good all the time too. Or maybe it’s that couple that’s always off traveling. You long to have as good of a life as they do, this is the influencer effect.
A shadow looms: Social media tricks us with this vision of the perfect life.
No one is going to post about that fight they got into with their S.O. No one is going to post about getting fired from the job they boasted about loving. No one is going to post when they’re looking their worst. It convinces us that everyone else has a perfect life and we don’t.
How Do You Avoid the Negative Effects?
Simply, you become aware of it. You work to improve your common sense and fake happiness meter.
Mindfulness living is all about knowing yourself and your own limits, as well as recognizing when your mind is running away from you. You can also fill your time with other activities. Put that phone away! Ditch that addiction.
How to Spend Less Time on Social Media
How I Ditched the Habit
Since this article is very much based around anecdotal evidence (aka me, the writer), I figured I’d share how I stopped the vicious cycle of checking my phone and social media without thinking.
I literally bought a paint set off of Amazon. I am not even kidding. I saw how much time I spent on social media. And I wanted to limit it. The best way I saw fit was to distract myself.
I’m also not a painter, so I bought one of those Paint By Numbers kits. The first day I spent about two hours painting and filling in about 1/10th of it. I felt way better than I had when I spent those hours mindlessly checking social media while binging another season on Netflix.
Tips on Kicking Your Social Media Habit
But you don’t need to paint. In fact, there are so many options that you can choose from to improve your mental health.
Here are my tips:
- Download a screen time app. It’ll help you see how much time you really spend on social media and it will help you manage that time better.
- Set rules for yourself. I avoid my phone and social media two hours before bed and the first two hours of my day.
- Do a digital detox. Go away for the weekend to a cabin without internet or reception. Or just simply turn off your phone and laptop for a day. You won’t know how good it feels until you try it.
- Turn off those notifications. Are you constantly prompted to check your social media accounts? Switch that notification toggle to off.
- Try on a greyscale screen. According to researchers, this makes social media way less appealing, so you look at it less - or that’s the idea anyway.
- Quit it altogether. If you can’t balance out the good with the bad, delete the apps. It sounds extreme but I’ve had friends who have done this and they say it’s significantly improved their well-being and their life.
If these don’t sound right for you, that’s fine! Find your own way to reduce your usage, any steps towards your goal is progress!
Live Your Life on Your Terms
Don’t let social media rule your life or your thoughts. It’s 100% not worth it. You only get one life and it’s up to you to get out and live it. Don’t limit yourself to your phone screen. Get out and see the world for what it is. Create your own thoughts and opinions about it. Appreciate it. View this life as a gift.
Your life is what you make it - not what social media broadcasts it out to be. Now, go after what you want, It’s absolutely within your control. Go become the person you were meant to be.
Related Article: 5 Body-Positive Social Media Accounts You Should Be Following