Time to log off
Sharon Ní Chonchúir learns about cutting back on social media
WITH the new year looming large on the horizon, many of us are setting new year’s resolutions. One of yours might be cutting back on social media, and we’ve got tips to help.
Firstly, know that you’re not alone. According to the annual Mobile Consumer Survey carried out by Deloitte, the average Irish phone user picks up their phone 55 times a day, and 56% of those interviewed for the survey believed they used their phones excessively.
There are lots of reasons why this might be the case.
While smartphones are a great way of staying connected with friends and family, experts say that social media apps can also trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-worth.
So, how do you go about cutting back? Juliet Hodges, senior behaviour change expert at Bupa, has some advice.
1. Set an achievable goal
Deleting your Instagram account might seem too daunting, so start with a more realistic aim.
“If your goal is achievable and if you have a clear deadline in mind, you’re more likely to achieve — or even exceed — your expectations,” says Ms Hodges.
She thinks that this is one of the best times to give up social media because you can commit to logging off for a short period of time and you’ll have lots of festivities to distract you from your newsfeed.
2. Go public
The best way of making sure you stick to a resolution is to tell people about it.
“Tell the people around you that you’re logging off or share it on your social media accounts,” says Juliet Hodges.
“We like to be seen to act consistently, particularly in front of others, so one way of making sure you don’t fall off the wagon is telling people around you what you’re planning to do.”
3. Avoid temptation
“Studies show that people with the best willpower aren’t stronger in the face of temptation; they just avoid putting themselves in that position,” says Hodges.
Consider deleting the social media apps from your phone. Out of sight is almost the same as out of mind.
4. Know your triggers
Research shows that it’s much easier to form new habits when we link them to activities that already occur in our daily lives.
“Why not make your morning coffee or afternoon walk device-free,” suggests Hodges.
“Take a book with you instead.”
5. Don’t beat yourself up
Habits are difficult to break, and most of us fall off the wagon at some stage. What’s important, according to Hodges, is how you react in those moments.
“Those who treat themselves with kindness when they slip up are much more likely to succeed in the long term than those who beat themselves up for every mistake,” she says.
“It’s equally important to celebrate your successes. Set yourself short-term targets — even daily goals — and give yourself a pat on the back for each achievement.”
SNAP HAPPY: Christmas can be a great time to break the habit of compulsive online interaction.