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How to spend less time on social media

Been told you spend far too much time on your phone? Or maybe you’re checking social media more than you normally would while we’re currently in lockdown?

While it can be a good distraction and a great way to keep in touch with your friends, spending too much time on social media can also have numerous negative effects. Why not set yourself the challenge of reducing the minutes (or hours!) you spend scrolling through news feeds, liking people’s posts and updating your statuses?

Why is it good to spend less time on social media?

Social media may promote connectivity and be a great creative outlet, however, it can also have some negative impacts – not least on your mental health. Particularly when it comes to teenagers and young adults, social media is thought to affect your mood and increase the likelihood of anxiety, poor body image and feelings of loneliness1. Some studies show that social media’s increasing popularity has also meant we are less effective at communicating in person as we tend to spend more time texting or messaging than we do chatting over the phone or face-to-face2.

To ensure you’re making the most of social media’s many benefits without allowing it to impact your mental health and social skills, it’s a good idea to limit your usage or even have a full detox every once in a while.

Five ways to help you cut down on social media time

Searching for ways to reduce your social media time?

Consider following these five tips:3

1. Don't look at your phone for at least an hour before bed

It’s thought that the blue light emitted by screens stimulates our brain activity and delays the release of melatonin (our sleep hormone)4. Therefore, checking social media before you go to bed could actually be damaging your quality of sleep. To ensure you’re fully relaxed and ready for some shut-eye, avoid looking at your phone, tablet or computer for at least an hour before you go to sleep.

2. Have a full break from social media once a week

Set aside one day every week when you don’t look at your social media notifications. Having a break every so often will make you realise just how easy it is to reduce your usage, plus it allows you to spend that time doing other things such as learning a new hobby, getting some fresh air outdoors or meeting a friend in person.

3. Avoid checking your phone first thing in the morning

Having a healthy morning routine is a great way to prepare and motivate yourself for the day ahead. One of the things you may want to do to get your day off to a good start is limit your phone usage.

Instead of lazing around in bed and checking your Instagram feed or replying to emails, jump straight out of bed, do some stretches and have your breakfast before you even look at your phone.

4. Keep track of your activity using a tracker

Most smart phones will now show you daily activity reports which tell you exactly how long you’re spending on each of your social media apps. These are fantastic at allowing you to slowly limit your social media usage over time.

5. Keen to go cold turkey? Simply delete your accounts

If you’re sick of social media altogether and are keen for a complete detox, the easiest way to do that is to simply delete all your apps or disable your accounts if you usually check them on a computer. You’ll then be able to redownload or reactivate them in the future when you’re ready to return to the social media world.

In addition to the above tips on reducing your time on things like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, why not tailor the content you look at? Try to follow accounts which post inspiring, honest or funny content to boost your mood instead of bringing you down.

Last updated: 27 April 2020