7 ways to quit your social media addiction

by Alena Blanes

“I’ll check Instagram just one more time…”

It’s the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before falling asleep. A quick scroll here, a news feed check there, and before you know it 20 minutes have gone by and you’re almost late for class. Sound familiar? It’s not uncommon for our social media addiction to affect our performance levels at work, school, and even in our relationships!

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a good selfie as much as the next person, but sometimes I just have to turn myself off for a bit. If you want to learn how to crush your habit for good and stop being a slave to the virtual world keep reading!

Swiping hands on phone screen animation

According to researchers at McMaster University, a social media addiction is often associated with risks such as:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Increased overall sadness
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Jealousy
  • Insomnia

Think you’re in the clear? You may also have an addiction if you:

  • Have a need to check your phone first thing in the morning
  • Have more conversations with people online vs. in real life
  • Feel jittery if you don’t check your phone for more than a couple minutes
  • Spend more than an hour each day on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat

On these platforms, we only post our best, often contrived moments — and that’s the problem. When everyone is posting their highlight reel we become caught in a cycle of thinking everyone else’s lives are perfect, except ours. So how can we break the cycle and start living in the real world? Let’s take a look!

Facebook notification popping up

1. Turn off your notifications 

One of the easiest ways to feel less inclined to check your phone is disabling those notification pop-ups that draw you in. Better yet, turn the sound off your phone or put it on “Do Not Disturb” mode so you’re not tempted to check every time you hear it vibrate.

2. Make cut-off times

Have you ever logged into Facebook for a quick notification check and wound up 70 photos deep on a random stranger’s vacation album? Don’t lie, I’ve been there too. The solution? Instead of scrolling aimlessly through selfies and sunsets, set restrictions for your social media usage. For example, no checking Instagram one hour after waking or one hour before going to bed.

If you’re having trouble resisting, try using the Forest App. For every chunk of time you remain off your phone they plant trees in real life! This is useful whether you’re trying to focus at the library, in class, or during dinner with friends.

Liking a photo on Instagram

3. Create a go-to list

Imagine having an extra 7 hours a week to do whatever you want. This could include reading that book you keep saying you’ll start, finishing projects, or catching up with an old friend. Keep a mental note of these things and whenever you feel the urge to give in to your social media vices remember your list of what you’d rather be doing, and go do that instead!

Jim from the show The Office staring at a computer screen

4. Avoid the newsfeed 

The newsfeed is where we tend to spend the most amount of time online since it’s set up to send us scrolling aimlessly for hours. One solution to this is avoiding the newsfeed altogether.

For example, instead of logging into Facebook to check your messages, just keep the Messenger app on your phone. You’re still being social, without being sucked down the endless hole of memes, videos, and Jamie’s trip to Cancun… wait who is that again?

If you’re really ready to bite the bullet, try installing the Facebook Newsfeed Eradicator — a free Chrome extension that blocks your newsfeed from showing up. You still have full access to your messages, notifications, and reminders without the temptation of endless scrolling.

5. Control your surroundings 

It’s impossible to control everything in our lives, but luckily social media gives us some leeway with what we see. While scrolling through your feed, stop and think to yourself, “Is this post positively or negatively affecting my life?” If the answer is “negatively,” simply unfollow the account.

Similarly, you can go through your friends or followers list to manually remove people or accounts that you just don’t feel a need to follow anymore.


Pressing the delete button

6. Log off and delete apps

It’s as easy as it sounds. If the distraction isn’t there, it won’t tempt you.

7. Aim for less

We all have that one friend who can’t go out to brunch without snapping a photo for Instagram (trust me, I was that friend). But next time you feel the urge to post another coffee photo on your Snapchat story, consider just letting it go. Nobody really needs to see what you’re up to. And if you feel like you have to prove yourself online, just imagine yourself looking back on your life in 60 years. You probably won’t want to reminisce about how much time you spent staring at a screen.


Person double-tapping furiously on phone screen

Obviously, social media isn’t all bad. It helps us find people we may have lost touch with years ago, or if you’re like me, keeps us connected with friends and family while we’re away at school. But it’s important to know the risks and when it’s time to take a break.

We tend to turn to social media to keep ourselves busy but it really only distracts us from what we should be doing. Whether you want more time for yourself, your schoolwork, or for your mental health, there’s no harm in taking a step back from the social sphere for a while.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Semester stress getting you down? Try out our mindfulness tips.

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