While many people (we're looking at you, Baby Boomers), see social media as the root of all evil, being able to connect with friends, anywhere, at any time is a good thing.
However, sometimes, too much of a good thing can be bad (just like Subway cookies, one is delicious, two makes you feel sick). So while social media is an everyday part of our lives, it's important to know which behaviours might be leading you down a prickly path. If any of these signs sound familiar, maybe it's time to check your scrolling style before it becomes a bad habit.
1. You're sensing a little FOMO
You log on Instagram, see a bunch of people you’re pals with, doing really fun stuff (sometimes without you) and BOOM, in kicks your FOMO (fear of missing out). It's no secret that the lives we advertise online are far from reality. But that doesn't make it any easier not to feel jealous when you spy your friends globetrotting, while you're getting ready for school or work. While a little FOMO is understandable if it starts to make you question your worth or wonder if you're being excluded on purpose, then chances are social media is getting the better of you. If FOMO is leaving you feeling isolated or inadequate, perhaps it's time to switch off for a while.
2. You've gone from Curious-Crush to Not-So-Subtle Stalking
Arguably the best part of social media is that you can immediately suss out someone you've shared sparks with. We've all done it - cooked up some chemistry and then jumped on the person’s Insta or Facebook page to see what they're like, all in the name of romantic research, of course. But when you start to deep dive, and accidentally like a picture from 2004, the damage is done. Sometimes a little mystery can go a long way.
3. You're easily distracted
Endless stories, new notifications and a non-stop stream of content. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are all designed to cater to our (increasingly) short attention spans. But all that scrolling can make it harder to concentrate elsewhere - at work, at school, or with your friends and family. If you notice that your focus is here, there and everywhere, the problem could be the phone in your pocket. Switch off, to switch on.
4. You crave notifications
There's no point denying that it's nice to be liked (or in the case of Facebook and Insta, to get likes), in fact, research has proven then every 'like' makes our brains feel warm and fuzzy. But the real problem pops up when you open your app, and there are no notifications. The more importance you place on getting likes online, the more likely you are to be left feeling empty, deflated or upset if that doesn't happen. Of course, there are a million reasons your latest photo didn't 'hit double digits', but if you've started to associate likes with being liked, then it can be a tough feeling.
If some of these signs sound familiar then there are a few ways to curb your scrolling. A good way to start is by reorganising your apps. Move your Instagram and Facebook apps away from the home screen. Out of sight, out of mind.
You can also try setting some (realistic) limits. Instagram offers a daily reminder function, which allows you to track the amount of time you spend on the app. You can also try disabling notifications so you’re not constantly aware of any activity on your social channels.