If you’re completely attached to social media, you’re not alone. Learn how you can detox in a few easy steps.

How many times have you found yourself in the dark, past bedtime, scrolling through Twitter or Facebook feeds, your face awash in blue light?

Do you find yourself checking into your favorite social media platform multiple times throughout the day, or better still, insisting on taking a photo for Instagram before taking a bite, every time you eat out. 

If you’re completely attached to social media, you’re not alone, but we’re going to talk about how you can reclaim your life from social media.

1. See Social Media as the Distraction It Is

I get it, I really do. I sit in front of a computer screen every day, researching and stringing words together. My brain has difficulty spending hours writing, so checking social media becomes a diversion throughout the day. In addition to a mindless break, social media notifications float across my laptop screen, taunting me with bits of information.

There are times when I’m coming close to deadline, or working on a project where I need to totally immerse myself for a few hours, and those times I spend without my browser open, in an effort to avoid distractions of any kind. 

In reality, I suppose I could do this more (as long as the piece I’m working on doesn’t require internet research). At the very least, closing all unnecessary tabs can help keep you focused on the task at-hand.

And don’t think for a minute that you are alone with your social media, ahem, habit.

Developers purposely create these platforms to make us want to keep coming back frequently. In fact, the very developer who created Facebook’s ‘like’ button, now uses parental control software (set up by his assistant) to block himself from downloading apps to his phone, in an effort to stay away from the draw of social media.

2. Turn Off Notifications

It would likely be a huge leap for you to completely delete all of your social media apps from your mobile devices, allowing you to fill gaps of time with more meaningful behaviors. But if you’re not ready to completely remove yourself from social media, it’s best to begin by turning off your notifications. 

While I’m not sure how to turn off the notifications I get while I’m at my computer, I’m pretty sure a simple internet search would yield the answer. However, I do know how to turn off notifications for apps on my phone, allowing me to spend time away from social media without seeing that I’m missing activity.

I challenge you to turn off your notifications before proceeding to the next paragraph -- go ahead, take care of it right now while it’s on your mind. 

3. Practice Mindfulness

Now that you’ve turned off your notifications, take a moment to carefully consider when and how often you check social media. Set aside a day to purposefully track how often you find yourself checking social media. If you find yourself logging in when you’re bored, make a note to fill that time with an interest you’ve neglected, or use that time to complete a small chore you’ve put off.

I think you’ll be surprised with your own social media habits once you take the time to track them.

For example, I find myself running late getting my son out the door each morning, and then end up starting my day in a state of anxiety. However, I use my phone as my morning alarm, and tend to spend the first 10-15 minutes I’m awake checking email (I have multiple accounts), trashing junk mail and spam, as well as checking social media. If I simply waited to get online when I started work a couple hours later, I could reclaim those 10-15 minutes.

Speaking of alarm clocks, I love Real Simple’s idea of purchasing an alarm clock so that you don’t start your day by looking at a screen. 

4. Enlist the Help of Technology

If you’re really struggling to stay off of social media, or don’t trust yourself to stay off, you can install parental control software (with a friend or significant other as admin) to block your access to any social media. If going cold turkey is extreme, then you can simply use the software to enforce time limits for your time online; this way you’re not completely removed from social media, but your time on the platforms has defined limits.

While I am of a generation that remembers life before social media (and the internet), I’m still pleasantly surprised by how much better my mood is when I have a break from social media. Instead of being focused on others, my mind is on myself and my family, and I’m fully present in the moment. And the truth is, I haven’t missed much when I check into social media a couple days later.

If your child needs help breaking their tech addiction too, read How to Help Your Teen with Their Technology Addiction.

About Lauren B. Stevens

Lauren B. Stevens is a writer, editor & digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.

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