Social media may seem like an inescapable way of life for many teens in 2020. Popular platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat allow us to connect with friends, family, celebrities and our favorite destinations from around the globe.
COVID-19 has shaped the way that many of us use social media. After being stuck in lockdown and out of school, you may find yourself using social media now more than ever. A recent study from Ann & H. Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago found that 63% of teens have increased their social media use during the pandemic.
Social media can be both good and bad
Social media certainly has a huge influence on the lives of many teens in America. Social media can be both constructive and destructive, depending on how you choose to use it. For many, social media can provide a positive way to interact and share life experiences with friends and family while providing a virtual scrap book to look back on our memorable teen years. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For others, it can be used as a means to cyberbully or harass others, lead to oversharing of our personal lives and also have an overall net negative impact on our psychological well-being.
Consequences of excessive social media use
Frequent social media can have many pitfalls and consequences. There is a large body of research that links teenage social media use with increased levels of depression and isolation. Constant social media use can lead to addiction and affect our ability to socialize normally with our peers. It can also lead to an unhealthy desire for approval and attention. 67% of American parents currently feel that their teen is addicted to social medial.
How to use social media less
If you find yourself wanting to use social media less, there are a handful of proven ways to help break the social media addiction.
- Monitor how much time you spend on social media.
If you have an iPhone, Apple has a new feature under settings called Screen Time. Under the Screen Time feature, you can track how much time you spend on your phone each day and specifically look at how much time you spend on each social media platform.
From there you have the ability to set time limits for each individual app. So, if you find yourself spending a lot of time on Instagram or TikTok, you can set a daily time limit for each individual app. Once you hit the daily time limit, access will be restricted on that app until the next day.
- Turn off notifications.
A very simple way to decrease the amount of time you spend checking your phone or browsing social media is to simply disable notifications for all social media apps. Without notifications, you will find your phone buzzing less and will be less inclined to constantly check your phone and scroll through social media feeds. You can do this on your iPhone by going into settings>notifications and then select the app you want to disable notifications for. You can turn allow notifications off for each individual app.
- Avoid social media use before bed and right when you get up.
One easy way to do this is to stop using your phone as your alarm clock. Also resist the urge to keep your phone within arms reach before bed. If you choose to distance yourself physically from your phone it will be easier to stay away from using it directly before bed or first thing in the morning.
By choosing to set boundaries on social use and making some small changes to how you use social media, you can ensure that social media has more of a positive than negative impact on your life.