It’s not surprising these days that so many of us are addicted to our smartphones, social media and the internet. Technology is a huge part of our every day lives, and it’s hard to imagine how we ever survived without the connectivity offered by the internet!
Whilst it’s great to be able to stay in touch with our friends and family, no matter how far away they might physically be, social media presents many issues. We’ll take a look at the 3 most common yet unhealthy social media habits so many of us have acquired, why we behave like this, why these habits need to change, and ten things we can do to stop making the same mistakes.
Unhealthy Social Media Habit #1: Our Addiction To Our Smart Phones
Are you one of those people who feels they have to respond almost instantly to incoming messages on your phone? It’s a common feeling, that urge to read a message the instant it comes through, and to reply to it straight away. But there are several problems caused by this.
Probably the most obvious is the stress caused by having to instantly reply to messages we receive. It’s hard to focus on other activities when your phone keeps beeping, and easy to think “it’ll only take a second to respond, then I’ll get back to what I was doing”. Problem is that you never finish what it is you’re actually supposed to be doing, or if you do it takes much longer than it should. No wonder we seem to be working much longer hours, yet often achieving less than we used to!
For some reason we prioritise messages from people we’re not with at the time, over people who may be physically right in front of us! Parents prioritise their messages over watching their children play sport, and often over listening to their children. And knowing that their parents are not really listening to them, children stop trying to communicate with their parents.
For those without children, it can be hard to enjoy quality face-to-face time with other people when you’re glued to your phone. Relationships suffer as do face-to-face social skills, and stress levels rise. Productivity at work also decreases.
Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
This is a genuine and common fear held by not just children and teenagers, but also by adults. What if you miss out on an invitation because you haven’t checked your messages? What if you miss out on a sale because you weren’t the first to respond to an offer on a Facebook page? What if you don’t see a video all your friends are talking about, and get left out of their conversation?
It Sets An Example
It’s no secret that our children learn from our behaviour. If you’re constantly checking your phone and feeling the need to respond instantly to every message you receive, your children will see this and feel like they need to do the same. It’s no wonder they feel so much pressure to keep up! It’s a heavy burdon for them to carry and one they shouldn’t have to worry about.
Unhealthy Social Media Habit #2: Posting Images Online
Posting images online can often cause problems, particularly in relation to privacy. We like to post images of course because we know that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. Images are much more engaging than text on social media, hence the success of platforms such as Instagram. Posts on Facebook and other social media sites that include images will always outperform text-only posts by a country mile.
In many cases, the images that are posted online are not representative of our lives. We select images that make it look like we’re having lots of fun – and maybe we are, which is great! But more often than not we mis-represent what our lives really look like.
The privacy issue around sharing images is huge. An image of a child in school uniform can look like an open invitation to an online predator. A person’s digital footprint is a major factor in whether they will be offered the job of their dreams, or whether they’ll get into a college course. It may even effect their chances of landing a relationship with someone they have a crush on.
Before we post images of other people online, we have a responsibility to ask for that person’s permission. But how many people actually do that?
For parents, we should be asking for our children’s permission before posting images of them online. Not that our children can legally provide that permission, but they should have the right to know what images of them are being posted online, and to stop their parents from posting images if they don’t want them there.
Once an image is posted on a social media site, the person who posted it no longer owns the image. They also have no control over where it ends up. Even if they later delete the image on their timeline it will still be appear online forever more.
Unhealthy Social Media Habit #3: Oversharing Of Content
Some people seem to post images of every meal they eat, not understanding that most people seriously just don’t care! Oversharing is very common and can lead to a reduction in followers and friends on a social media platform.
Other people, and often the same people who will share too many everyday images online, post rants and raves on social media platforms. They may be religious or political, they may be racist, or they may just be anti-social.
Why Do We Overshare Content In Social Media?
There are different reasons for this. For some it’s just habit; they’ve gotten used to sharing most aspects of their lives online and now it’s just what they do. For others, we’re trying to keep up with our friends and everyone else online. And we think that we need to share what we’re up to so that our friends can be a part of our lives.
What’s Wrong With Oversharing?
The real problem is that so many of us just don’t think of the consequences of what we share online before we share it. We don’t consider that we may later regret what we’ve posted. And we don’t think about who may see what we’ve posted, and what effect that could potentially have on our lives.
How To Stop These Unhealthy Social Media Habits
Now that we’ve uncovered some of our unhealthy social media habits, how can we stop them? A habit once formed can be hard to break, and it generally takes about 30 days to form a new habit. This requires a consistent and focused effort on your behalf. Are you ready to do this?
Here are ten ways you can stop any unhealthy social media habits you’ve unconsciously acquired.
- Discipline yourself to wait for a minute before checking messages when you hear them come through. This will be very difficult at the start, but like anything it will get easier with time
- Tell your friends up-front that you may not check their messages straight away. Explain that this doesn’t mean you’re angry with them or that there’s anything wrong – just that you have other things to do!
- If you have a specific task to do, don’t check for messages until you’ve finished it. You’ll be amazed at the difference this makes to your productivity!
- Fight the urge to check your phone when you’re socialising in person with friends, or during meals with your family. Put your phone away and enjoy the quality time you’ll have with the people who mean the most to you
- If you’re a parent, and your child is keen to tell you about their day, make it a rule that you’ll give your child your undivided attention. Your child will soon realise they’re more important to you than keeping up on social media, which will work wonders for their behaviour and for your relationship with them
- Before posting an image that includes another person, ask that person for their permission. This includes your children
- Think about who may see an image you post before you post it. If you’re not comfortable with your image being seen by a future employer, your grandmother or a police officer, don’t post it
- Don’t share posts that have no benefit and just waste other people’s time. It’s disrespectful and annoying to those who ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ you
- If you’re upset about something and feel like ranting and raving about it, pick up the phone and talk to a friend, or write it down on a piece of paper which you can then throw away. Get it out of your system by all means, but not on a social media platform where it’s permanent and can possibly cause problems for you in future
- Consider how your post could be interpreted, or mis-interpreted. Is it ambiguous? Could the information you post be turned against you somehow? Always think before you post, whether it’s an image, text or both