Social media has been around for a long time, but it's only recently that we've started to better understand the extent of its impact on our lives. Anyone with a smartphone can attest that social media can be a major part of daily life. However, what happens when that usage becomes addictive? There are many signs your behavior might be off-kilter and if you feel like this describes you at all, there are steps you can take towards getting help.
It's normal to feel a little twinge of anxiety when you can't check your phone or computer, but if it becomes an all-consuming compulsion and causes you significant distress, then there might be something larger happening.
Signs of Social Media Addiction
You spend a lot of time thinking about social media, even when you're not using it.
You think about social media when doing other things, like eating or sleeping.
You associate certain activities with checking your phone for notifications from friends and followers on various platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
You feel anxious when you can’t check your social media.
You experience an overbearing sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when you do not check your social media.
Tips on How to Manage Social Media Addiction
If you're constantly checking social media, taking breaks is a good idea. There are many ways to do this:
Disable notifications on your phone and computer.
Leave social media apps open but in the background of your screen (aka "the dock") so that they aren't visible unless you actively click on them.
Set aside specific times in which you check social media, such as in the morning or after work.
Set app limits for more structured screen time.
When to Seek Help for Your Social Media Addiction
Feeling anxious or depressed when you can’t check your social media
If you feel anxious or depressed when you can't check your phone or computer, it's time to talk to someone about it.
It's no secret that social media can cause anxiety and depression. The more time users spend on their phones scrolling through social media, the more likely they are to report symptoms of anxiety and depression (1). But what if this isn't just a correlation? What if there's actually something about social media use that makes people feel anxious and depressed?
That's exactly what some researchers have found: a direct link between heavy smartphone use--and specifically checking notifications--and increased feelings of loneliness and unhappiness (2). In fact, one study showed that compulsive media use significantly triggered social media fatigue, which later resulted in elevated anxiety and depression (3).
Neglecting responsibilities to use social media
If you're neglecting your responsibilities to use social media, it's time to reevaluate your relationship with the platform. If your life is getting out of control because of TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, this could be a sign that something needs to change.
If you are using social media as a distraction from your problems or as an escape from reality (or even just to feel good about yourself), then maybe it's time for some serious self-reflection and possibly help from a mental health professional.
Not being honest about how much time you spend on social media
If you are not honest about how much time you spend on social media, you may need to think about why you can’t be honest. You may not be aware that you are hesitant to disclose how much time you spend on social media, or you may think it's normal to spend a lot of time on social media, or you might even feel uncomfortable sharing your screen time with others. If this sounds like you, then it's time to talk to someone about it.
If you think that you may have concerns with social media use, it's important to seek help from a mental health professional. At Heritage Counseling & Consulting we use various treatment modalities to address social media addiction like Neurofeedback Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and more. If you want to learn more about social media addiction therapy at Heritage Counseling & Consulting, please call 214-363-2345 to learn more and schedule your first appointment.