Social media and I have a bit of a complicated relationship.
On one hand, I love the ability to be a part of a global community full of incredible and talented individuals. Social media has allowed me to create friendships, and even foster a bit of a career creating content. It’s a beautiful platform for people to grow and learn.
However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its pitfalls either. I’m definitely not immune to the cyclical Instagram binging-low self-esteem inducing evenings of mindfuckery that make me feel like I should really be purchasing hair vitamins, and unnecessarily expensive designer wear.
There are plenty of listicles, videos, and entire self-help books dedicated to social media detoxification. They all prescribe the same remedy: cut yourself off from the online world, live your best Luddite life, and be better for it.
However, none of these mediums really offer a solution to developing a long term healthy(ish) relationship with the internet. While the first few weeks of the detox are great, what happens after? Hours of countless binging and mindless scrolling. We’re back at square one, again.
Social media is a bit like dessert - it’s best in moderation. Sure, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while but you need your salad in there too. Pulling yourself away from the screen can be particularly challenging, especially because there seems to be a warp in the space-time continuum as soon as you enter the Instagram wormhole.
Enter: Screen Time.
There’s a nifty little feature built into your iPhone called “Screen Time.” You can set limits on how long you’re allowed to be on screen, apply specific restrictions to certain apps (aka YouTube, Instagram, Twitter), and even track how many times a day you pick up the phone.
Can’t be responsible for your own consumption limitations? Ask a friend to apply a passcode. When you run out of time, you’ll be locked out of your chosen apps until the end of the day.
Screen Time is one part hellish, two parts immensely helpful. The data feature has helped me really put into perspective how much time I waste on the daily, simply staring into the digital abyss. Then by analyzing your own data, you’ll identify bad habits (the bathroom, anyone?). Whether or not you choose to change your habits is up to you, but the data's there.
No, it’s not a perfect solution, but it's the only sure-fire way I’ve found to help provide some parental-style limitation on my phone use.
Ultimately, creating healthy boundaries with social media comes from self-control. But for a generation that seems to lack it, and craves instant gratification, the fastest & easiest solution is to just apply some old school parenting techniques.
So the next time your phone tells you that you’ve met your social media consumption limit for the day, take the time to try something new. Cultivate a new hobby. Try that new cafe down the street. Just remember, there’s a whole world out there. You just need to remember to look up.