“No” is a complete sentence.

How often have you taken a “five-minute” study break only to realize, hours later, you’ve spent your whole evening scrolling through TikTok? Too many times? Well, you’re not alone.

Woman laying on bed and scrolling through her phone.

The internet is a rabbit hole, designed to be addictive. And, the negative effects that come with it are no secret- from developing anti-social tendencies, to insomnia, burnouts and lack of creativity.

With the pandemic forcing us to spend more time online, it’s more necessary than ever for students to set online boundaries to protect their physical and mental well-being. Putting clear rules and limits in place while participating in online activities will help protect and nurture your professional and personal life.

A person says, "Everybody, set a boundary."

So, say goodbye to the negative tendencies that come with using the internet and turn over a new leaf by setting online boundaries. Here’s how to start!

Bookend your day offline

A woman says, "Time to put that phone down."

After switching off your fourth alarm in the morning, it’s oh-so-tempting to immediately look at last night’s messages and scroll through your Instagram feed. But STOP!

Checking your phone first thing in the morning can waste your time and may cause increased stress and anxiety. Also, studies find using your phone right before bed may cause insomnia.

So, instead, try beginning and ending your day by taking a walk, checking in with loved ones or indulging in a hobby.

Struggling to disconnect? Putting your phone on airplane mode at night can help you refrain from checking it first thing in the morning.

Setting app limits and downtime

Screen time daily average shown fluctuating from 8 hours to 23 hours.

Regularly monitor your screen time to identify your most-used social media. Then, set app limits and downtime to restrict the time you spend on them. This will help you avoid falling into another rabbit hole of meme-bingeing.

Feel like venting? Switch to notes.

Woman takes a note pad and pen, says, "Okay, alright."

It’s easy to get caught up in emotions and put all your personal grievances out there for the world to see. But, while it might feel good in the moment, acting on such impulses can often be regrettable in hindsight.

Got in a fight with your bestfriend? Your co-worker’s being annoying and you want to rant about it? Type it out on your notes app ( or your journal) instead. You can go back later with a calm mind to analyze whether posting is worth it or not.

Curate your following

Dr. Emmett Brown says, "Just say no!"

Your social media accounts belongs to you. You are not obliged to accept follow requests from, or follow, people who make you uncomfortable.

If your ex-partner or colleague following you makes you anxious of what you post, remove them. Social media should be platforms where you can feel safe.

Mute that one person (you know the one)

Woman lifts a remote and says "mute."

We’ve all got that one classmate, extended family member or acquaintance whose social media presence we just don’t vibe with. If unfollowing them would make things awkward, don’t be afraid to mute them—we promise you won’t be missing out on anything by not knowing what they eat everyday.

Applying online boundaries immediately might be difficult; but remember, slow and steady wins the race. So, start today to develop a healthier relationship with those little icons on your phone screen.

This new year, let a healthy online presence be your resolution.

The internet isn’t the only place you need to look out for you. Here’s how to set boundaries at school and at home.

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