9 ways to curb your social media addiction if you’re too far gone for a detox

Words by Alyce Greer

Illustration by Twylamae

Help is on the way.

Hello, I’m Alyce, and I’m addicted to my phone. Not in a cute, I’m-always-on-my-phone-I’m-so-naughty kind of way. In a I-need-to-check-into-rehab-before-it-ruins-my-life kind of way. I wake up and open Instagram before both of my eyes are open. I smash phones frequently because I’m trying to send memes while carrying 12 grocery bags up three flights of stairs. At many times throughout the day, I’ll pick up my phone, unlock it and open Facebook – without even realising. Having such a problem makes me very sad.

Can you relate? If so, it’ll come as no surprise you probably need a major detox from all social media. Unfortunately, even taking a short break is asking too much of us millennials; we need to be across all socials, all day, for outfit inspo, makeup tutorials, recipes, memes, pictures of our matcha lattes, celebrity gossip and DMs to friends. Also, occasionally, work.

If you’re in way too deep to cut social media out completely for a day or two, try these tips instead. They will at least reduce your usage, giving you more time to do something (anything) else.

Track your time

Screen Time is a passive-aggressive setting on your iPhone that rubs in your face just how much time you’re spending on each and every app, shocking you into making a change. See how it says you’ve spent 150 hours on Instagram this week?

Create a wake-up and bedtime rule

Do you get home from work, sit on the couch and mindlessly scroll social media until you’re literally falling asleep? Ok, time to stop doing that. You need some rules. For example, maybe you’re banned from even opening your phone until you are dressed for the day, and have had your coffee. At night, you can only browse social up to dinnertime. Not during, not after. You can also try assigning a time limit (“I can use my phone for five minutes, then I have to have a shower”) or putting your phone in a different room whenever it’s not necessary to have it with you. Personally, I like to physically lose my phone somewhere in the house.

Temporarily delete your apps

That’s right, I said delete your apps. This is probably my most brutal piece of advice, and one I will probably never adhere to myself, but I’ve heard it works wonders for social media addicts. At a certain time each night, delete your most troublesome apps, and only download them again at a certain time the following day. Extreme? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

To-do list first, social media second

Because we’re all babies, we need bribes and treats to make us do things we don’t want to do. From now on, try to think of social media as a reward (Sad, I know, but this is where we’re at). Every morning, write out your to-do list for that day, then only open social media once everything is crossed off. If you’re like me, completing one day’s worth of tasks could take weeks, which will force you into an involuntary detox. 

Cull your accounts

Often, the whole problem with social media is not how much time we’re wasting, but how it’s making us feel. If you’re ogling pictures of the Victoria’s Secret Angels all day every day, it’s probably not going to make you feel very good about yourself. Fact. Spend some time culling your Instagram accounts and Facebook friends, removing unrealistic or annoying people. You don’t need that sort of negativity in your life.

Turn off notifications

Here’s a simple, life-changing idea: go to your phone settings and turn off your Instagram and Facebook notifications. Voila! Now, you’re not being pestered every time you’re liked, followed or tagged, meaning you’re picking up your phone way less, not breaking your concentration as often, and can actually get your shit done.

Avoid automatically signing into Facebook

Do you really need to have your Facebook left open on your computer every day? Unless you need it for work purposes, that distracting video of trainee guide dogs helping old people can probably wait until later (even though it’s so cute I want to cry thinking about it).

Set different activities to replace your social media time

Firstly, review your phone habits. Is your problem that you’re constantly late for work because you scroll for a bit too long first thing in the morning, or do you never get to watch that documentary because you peruse Instagram until bedtime? Make a list of activities you want to achieve – putting together a week’s worth of outfits for work, prepping your food for the week, writing in your journal, meditating etc – and slot these in at a time you would normally be a couch potato.

Test your ability to detox 

So you’ll most likely fail (and you’ll definitely hate it) but how will you know until you try? Rather than putting pressure on yourself to go three whole days without using your phone, start small. Can you avoid using it at all until lunchtime? Can you skip Facebook today? Go for as long as you possibly can, then cheer yourself up with a couple of memes. There’s always next time.

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