10 Simple Ways to Take a Step Back From Social Media
By: Valeria Ramos
If you’ve found yourself surprised (and let’s be honest, ashamed) by your phone’s weekly screen time report, you’re not alone.
According to a report from Insider Intelligence, the average time spent on mobile devices in the U.S. increased 2.5% year-over-year to over 4.5 hours per day in 2022.
The pandemic, along with the growth of short-form video content on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts undeniably accelerated digital media consumption worldwide.
Increased social media consumption has significant impacts, including eye strain, lack of motivation, reduced attention span, delayed sleep, and more. Not to mention its detrimental impact on mental health.
As much as we love the community, creativity, humor, and knowledge that social media platforms offer, it’s important to acknowledge whether your online consumption is healthy, or whether it’s taking up valuable time that could be spent elsewhere.
Why you should take a step back from social media
While the decision is yours, and yours alone, here are a few statistics that convey how much digital consumption is on the rise and how it impacts our daily life:
- Most mobile phone users check their phones up to 63 times daily (Source: TechJury)
- Americans spend an average screen time of 5.4 hours on their mobile phones daily (Source: TechJury)
- 13% of millennials spend over 12 hours on their phones daily (Source: TechJury)
- 50% of American teens agree that they are addicted to their cell phones (Source: Online King)
- 58% of people tried to restrict their phone usage, with 41% of them succeeding (Source: Slick Text)
10 simple ways to take a step back from social media
- Wait 48 hours before posting: Eliminate the need to share everything immediately by setting a rule to avoid posting for at least 48 hours. This gives you time to be in the moment and evaluate why you want to share your content and whether it’s necessary.
- Turn off notifications: Turn off notifications for all social media apps to avoid distractions. This can help you focus when trying to work, study, or sleep.
- Delete apps you don’t use: If you rarely post on Twitter or LinkedIn, remove the apps from your phone. This eliminates the temptation to scroll mindlessly and you can still access your accounts on a laptop if needed.
- Leave your phone in another room: Simple but effective, this tip eliminates the mindless temptation to open your phone by keeping it out of sight.
- Use apps to help you limit time on social: The iPhone allows you to set screen time limits, and while you can work around it, it will make you rethink whether you really need to extend your screen time. If this hasn’t cut it for you, download a third-party app to set a hard and fast limit.
- Have a screen-free hobby: Everyone should have a screen-free hobby to promote creativity and mental health. Whether it’s painting, reading, working out, spending time outside, cooking, or volunteering—make a point to be more meaningful with your time and try to pick up new skills.
- Spend time with friends and family in person: Time flies when you’re having fun, and time with the right people will make you forget your phone exists altogether. While scheduling get-togethers as an adult can be difficult, it’s important to connect with loved ones IRL and make new memories.
- Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ often: Place your phone on the “Do Not Disturb” mode to silence calls, texts, and social media messages during your working hours and mealtimes. Make this a daily habit by automatically scheduling ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode at certain times of the day.
- Be conscious of who you follow: If you’re not ready to quit social media just yet, be picky about who you follow. While your feed will always show you recommended content, be mindful of the aspects you can control and follow only accounts that spark your interest and joy.
- Start a no-social media challenge: Start with one week of no social media and see how you feel. Then, challenge yourself (and your friends/family) to two or three months without social media and set a reward for who can last the longest.
The impact of taking a step back from social media
If you typically spend a minimum of two hours a day on social media, taking a break would result in 14 extra hours per week! Taking a few simple steps to limit your time on social can lead to a newfound appreciation for your time and how you spend it.
A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study highlighted just how impactful monitoring social media use can be.
The study randomly assigned 143 undergraduates to two groups. The first group limited Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to ten minutes per platform per day. The second group continued to use their social media as usual for three weeks.
The group that limited their social media time showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression during those three weeks over the group that continued using social media.
Taking a social media break can be difficult, but once you fight the FOMO, you’ll find yourself reconnecting with the real world, crossing more tasks off your to-do list, and making time well spent a habit.