Social media plays a vital role in people’s lives, and this has been especially true during the lockdown period. Digital platforms have given people something to keep busy with — from sharing funny pictures and video content to engaging followers or friends. 

Social media does have a number of benefits, such as helping anxiety and reducing stress levels. However, there does come a point whereby some people are constantly checking their phones in fear of missing out — or experiencing ‘FOMO’ —  regarding any news, life events or updates. 

It’s good to be informed, but there’s also a need for healthy limitations in order to avoid the overuse or even addiction of these platforms.

But how can one do this? 

Read on to find out:

1. Setting the ‘off’ button on social media notifications

Turning off your social media notifications is ideal, especially if you’re someone who jumps towards their smartphone every time they pop up.

With that said, this is obviously dependent on what you use your social media platforms for. For example, if you’re running a business, it would work more in your favour to keep them on, as a notification could mean money is waiting. 

However, in a more personal capacity, this may end up creating a constant distraction while working on important tasks —  such as work. Or, even on your own time, when you’re spending time with family and friends outside of work hours.

The constant need to check your notifications builds a behaviour called phubbing, which is described as an act of snubbing someone you’re in conversation with a person in favour of your smartphone device. 

So, to avoid this from happening, turn off your notifications and rather create relevant and specific times to check on your platforms. 

Overcoming  fear of missing out syndrome 

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is something that can affect many users on social media. You might have experienced this yourself at one point, such as when you’re seeing friends share pictures of that trip you couldn’t make on Instagram —  this may make you feel like they had the time of their lives without you. 

So, how does one deal with this feeling of FOMO? According to wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, you can: 
  • divert your attention to activities that you normally lack time for, such as reading books
  • add inspiring people on your social media platforms, which will keep you motivated and set realistic life goals. 
  • understand that some of your life experiences are not for social media — rather keep a journal and write about your life there. 
  • look for and experience real-life connections, like visiting a nearby friend for a chat over a beverage. 

Identifying whether you’re addicted to social media 

Believe it or not, social media addiction does exist, with 47% of Internet users across 17 countries stating that their usage of these platforms has increased since the global lockdown.

So, the ultimate question is — when can you tell that you’re hooked? 

Here are a few symptoms to look out for:

Anxiety — You become anxious when you can’t access your social media platforms. This can be a sign that you’ve developed a desperate need to check on your pages, even when there isn’t anything worth looking at. 

Overthinking — You find yourself spending hours upon hours on planning content. For example, you take a lot of time out of your day to take the perfect picture, with the aim of having tons of likes and comments, and feeling depressed or disappointed when your post does not achieve this. 

Depression — You feel depressed when you have zero or few likes, shares or comments on your social media posts. This feeling may dent your self-esteem and, as a result, could affect your mental health. 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you might want to consider a digital detox. And remember to be disciplined in the process and not fall back into any habits of addiction, such as prioritising your social media content over more important things, like friends, family or even your career. 

If you’re struggling to do this, seek some help. Either from a family member or friend, or even professionally. You can even get an app to monitor your social media use and screen time.

This will allow you to see how long you spend on a certain platform, which will help you determine whether you’re spending too much time on social media. 

Do you find yourself experiencing social media FOMO? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Because digital platforms have the potential to be a toxic space, it is more important than ever for brands to create uplifting visual content on social media.