The use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and dating apps has become the cornerstone of modern communication and connection as it allows users to create a sense of belonging and redefine their way of being. Despite the many positive benefits and impacts of these sites, the recent studies indicating negatives impacts has reignited discussions about the place of social media and social networking sites in our lives.

Studies show social media use is associated with a number of psychological problems, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, ADHD, and addiction. Because social media is most frequently accessed via smartphones, their usage is intimately intertwined and their mobile nature contributes to excessive checking habits, which often derives from what is commonly labelled as the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO).

Many people’s social media use is habitual and it can start to spill over into other areas of their lives and be problematic and dangerous, such as checking social media while driving. Other behaviors may be annoying rather than dangerous, but may be indicative of social media addiction, such as checking social media while eating out with friends or constantly checking your smartphone while watching a movie at the cinema. Others may snub social contact with their loved ones or friends and prefer to check out social media on their smartphone instead (so-called ‘phubbing’).

If you want to check whether you may be at risk of experiencing addiction to social media, ask yourselves these six simple questions:

1.) Do you spend a lot of time thinking about social media or planning to use social media?
2.) Do you feel urges to use social media more and more?
3.) Do you use social media to forget about personal problems?
4.) Do you often try to reduce your use of social media without success?
5.) Do you become restless or troubled if you are unable to use social media?
6.) Do you use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job or studies?

If the answer to all six of these questions is “yes,” then you may have or be developing an addiction to using social media. We say “may” because the only way this can be confirmed is through a diagnosis from a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Our program is a digital detox. We implement 12 detox strategies, some include simple steps, such as turning off sound notifications and only allowing yourself to check your smartphone every 30 minutes or once an hour. Other simple steps include having periods in the day where there is self-imposed non-screen time (such as during meal times) and leaving your smartphone in a separate room from where you sleep (just so you don’t get the urge to check social media before bedtime, during the night, and when you wake up). Call us to find out more about this program!

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