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Develop Healthy Social Media Habits

Watch for these signs that your online life is unhealthy and learn what you can do about it

Social media can be great for connecting and keeping in touch with people. But it can have a dark side too.

If you’ve ever felt lonely, depressed, inadequate or anxious after scrolling through social media, you’re not alone.

Recent studies have found links between increased social media use and negative feelings and behaviors. Those include:

  • Spending less time with people in person.
  • Being distracted at work or school.
  • Developing low self-esteem, a negative body image or dissatisfaction with your life.
  • Engaging in risky behavior like posting embarrassing material about yourself or cyberbullying to gain attention online.

Reset your relationship with social media

Reducing your time online can promote a healthier relationship with social media. If you think your social media use is causing problems in your life, try these tips:

  • Balance time online and offline. Spend quality time at meals and get-togethers with your family and friends, not on your phone.
  • Say no to notifications. Those bings, banners, beeps and badges are designed to be too tempting to ignore. Turn them off so you can concentrate on real life.
  • Disengage. Do some posts leave you feeling angry, unhappy or left out? Maybe it’s time to stop engaging with those folks online.
  • Reality check. Use an app to set goals for how much time you want to spend on social media.
  • Check in on your own terms. Decide when you have the time to look at social media updates. Gradually wean yourself off frequent check-ins.

Finally, the next time you automatically turn to social media, take a moment to be more mindful. Think about why. Are you lonely? Bored? Then, consider better uses of your time, like meeting up with a friend or a loved one, taking a walk, starting a new hobby, or writing in your journal.

Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; Child Mind Institute; HelpGuide

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