Engaging with platforms such as Facebook to share snippets of your life can easily become a habit.

Research indicates that approximately 12% of social media users exhibit signs of addiction to these platforms, illustrating the widespread nature of this phenomenon.

Trevor Cooke, the privacy expert at Earthweb, discusses the tell-tale signs you could have a social media addiction, and explains what you can do about it.

Social Media Consumes All Your Time

Do you spend hours every day scrolling through your social media pages? If you answered yes, it could negatively impact your productivity at work or school, and could also make you neglect your family responsibilities. Take a tally and see how often you pick up your phone to scroll – the result might shock you. 

Trevor says, ‘iPhones and Androids have built-in trackers that reveal your daily social media usage.  Apps such as Instagram and Facebook can provide alerts when you’ve reached your maximum daily time allowance. You can utilize these features to keep your scrolling habit under control.’ 

Social Media Makes You Withdraw Socially

Social media often either fills a vacuum in your social life, or does the opposite, making you withdraw from society. To combat this, arrange regular meet-ups with friends, join a local sports club, or take up a new hobby. 

Trevor says, ‘Make sure you’re doing things you enjoy, rather than pursuing activities so you can post about them online. Try doing at least three activities a week that you don’t post about on social media.’

Social Media Makes You Develop Mental Health Issues

Seeing other people’s ‘beautiful bodies’ on social media may cause you to develop a low self-image or even body dysmorphia. Endless notifications and late-night scrolling can cause anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Social media addiction can also lead to:

  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide

According to Trevor, ‘Hiding (not deleting) social media apps from your home page reduces the temptation to keep using them. I suggest turning off your notifications so you’re not constantly barraged by messages, sounds, and vibrations.’ 

You Can’t Stop

If someone tells you to stop using your phone, do you become anxious or aggressive? If so, these are classic withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, people need to completely give up social media. If this is too difficult, try easing yourself into it by having a break – perhaps initially just for one day. 

Trevor says, ‘Social media should serve you, not control you. If you’re still struggling, you could seek professional help, such as mental health services or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These methods can help you detach yourself from social media once and for all.

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