Do you find yourself reaching for your phone when you should be studying or listening in class? When you sit down to do homework and you hear your phone ping, can you resist the urge to look at your notifications immediately? Do you often tell yourself, “Only five minutes on TikTok, then I’ll start my work”? You and I both know this five-minute break will turn into four hours of scrolling while your homework remains incomplete. I’m not saying this to shame you because it happens to the best of us, but it’s important to recognize this pattern and make the conscientious decision to change your habits. Simply locking away your phone will not be enough to help you through this process. Whether you’re aware of social media addiction or find it to be a hindrance to your academic potential and want to make a change, here are four steps to help decrease your social media dependence.
Who knows you better than you know yourself? Nobody! That’s why for a successful social media detox, you need to consider your own usage habits and the role it plays in your life. Do you use social media as a form of communication, escapism, inspiration, or advertising? How much time do you spend scrolling online? When you take questions like these into account, you can determine how dependent you are on these apps to then create a plan to detach. If you’re an excessive user, you're going to need a lot of willpower and patience to overcome this hurdle.
Related: The Balancing Act of Social Media
2. Realize time is your most valuable resource
Many people find themselves with “not enough” time in the day to get their work done and end up feeling anxious in the end. But if we’re being frank here—student to student—much of that time is wasted on endless scrolling or chatting online. You may think you’re spending just a few minutes, but time really does fly when you’re faced with infinite content tailored to your interests.
To break the cycle…download another app. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but lockdown apps like Flipd: Focus & Study Timer and Freedom can help you by temporarily restricting access to social media or news outlets. The amount of time that they’re blocked is completely up to you, but once the preferences are set, they cannot be bypassed.
3. Limit your online presence
If you find yourself posting the same content on numerous platforms and are fed up with it, consider downsizing your digital availability. Most phones have settings that track screentime and media usage, so simply survey your roster and delete the ones that you foresee being expendable. If you really want to tackle the issue at hand, delete the apps that you're most active on to squash the addiction. This also reduces the number of pesky notifications you receive, which will further quell your desire to check your phone (because FOMO lingers within all of us).
4. Take up some old or new hobbies
Specifically non-technology-related hobbies. When you begin your social media cleanse, you’ll find yourself with a lot of valuable time that you can put toward yourself. Get back into an old hobby that you love but never have time for, or try picking up a new sport, art, or book. Eventually, you’ll find that taking a break from social media can be fulfilling.
Related: How to Be Responsible Using Social Media as a Student
We turn to social media for a plethora of things as students: community, help, entertainment—the list goes on and on. The best part about it is that it’s reliable. But when you become chronically online and attached to your phone, the repercussions can take a toll on you. The best thing is to notice when you’ve had enough and disconnect for however long you need. Good luck!
Looking for other ways to have more screen-free time? Check out our blog on How to Make Your Semester More Mindful before you log off!