10 Ways To Use Social Media More Responsibly
Being aware of your usage, engagement, and time on social media can be beneficial to your life.
Social Media has revolutionized our lives and the ways we connect. There are many benefits from the mass adoption of social media. Families and friends can connect so much more easily. Important people, messages, and stories can gain awareness at lightning speed. Individuals can build and create like never before. Businesses can connect with their targeted audience, quickly and more cost effectively. At Cuker, we believe in the power and positive impacts of social media.
We are also conscious that there can be negative impacts when social media is consumed and operated without humane, ethical, and responsible approaches. As a consumer it is easy to become more distracted, less focused, and less productive. Without boundaries, we can be bombarded with content from social media and other sources that compete for our attention. Overly persuasive content and aggressive user behavior in messaging and commenting can alter our own mood and behavior. This can be overwhelming and stressful for adult consumers. Even worse, these factors can have horrible consequences for young teenagers.
Social media plays an important role in our daily lives and is surely here to stay…but you don’t need to be consumed by the medium. Being mindful of your usage, the reasons for your engagement, and limiting your social media time can be beneficial to your life, well-being, and mental health. Here are 10 ways as a consumer you can be more intentional and responsible with social media. For more information on what we’re doing as a business to incorporate humane and ethical practices into our social media marketing, please download our company stance.
Turn Off Notifications
Here is a good place to start – turn off all notifications on your social media accounts. Sure, many of us have FOMO, or a Fear of Missing Out, and notifications keep us in the constant information loop. But as much as you’re not missing out, you’re being sucked down the proverbial rabbit hole of continual distraction from work, family, and friends. Instead, a good framework to follow is scheduling times throughout the day (preferably once in the morning, afternoon, and evening) to check notifications. This will help so you’re not attached to your smartphone all day.
Watch Your Time
When you’re on social media, it’s so easy to get carried away scrolling through feeds and bouncing from TikTok to Instagram. At the end of the day, you may feel as though you’ve accomplished nothing of real significance. Researchers have recently identified a sweet spot when it comes to the amount of time you spend on social media. The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology suggests that keeping usage down to 30 minutes a day can lead to better health outcomes, reduce loneliness, and lower depression. So set limits on how much time you spend on social media. If you have an iPhone, you can easily monitor your screen time, access real-time reports, and set up app time limits.
Follow With A Purpose
As you’re scrolling through social media, do you ever ask yourself, “why am I following this person and what is the purpose of it?” If you haven’t already, maybe now is a good time to be intentional about who you follow. Ask yourself these questions, and if you can’t find a good reason to be following that account, simply unfollow them. Another good way to curate your feed is to stop following accounts or people who bring negativity, jealousy, or comparison to their posts or tweets. It’s important to follow people who add positivity, inspiration, creativity, joy, and hope to the world. It's also important to be aware that what we see in our social media feeds is determined by algorithms that predict what you want to see based on your interests. Make sure to diversify your digital worldview by following and engaging with people online from different backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs than you.
Stop Mindless Scrolling
Scrolling social media is like a slot machine of stimulation. Even if your feeds are curated effectively, you can still find yourself mindlessly scrolling for hours on end. It’s easy to get stuck in this spiral of procrastination, comparing yourself to every account that seems to have more followers, cooler photos, and more interesting lives. Stop the scrolling! Instead, go directly to the account or person you actually want to learn more about. Also, give your feed a good cleansing, especially of accounts you don’t know or recognize. This approach will cut down your endless scrolling and will have a positive effect on your personal mindset.
Beware Of Clickbait
In recent years, fake news and clickbait have become huge issues. As people scroll through feeds, dubious headlines void of any context lead many to click on hyperlinks which propagate fake content or misleading information. This is what’s referred to as ‘clickbait’. Unfortunately, studies continue to show that controversial or negative headlines generate the most clicks on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If you have thoughts about getting ‘news’ from provocative headlines, it’s best to just step back, check the website link, and acquire factual information from reliable sources.
Monitor Your Emotions
Though there are many positive aspects of social media, there are also facets of the medium that can be quite negative. By nature, human beings are social creatures. We look to companionship and understanding of others to thrive in life. Being socially connected provides a sense of belonging, joy, and self-worth. Yet on the flip side, lacking social connections or comparing one’s own life to others can pose a serious threat to your emotional health and happiness. Be aware of how social can affect your mood, actions, and emotions. It’s easy to get caught up in this social cycle of what’s real and what isn’t real. It’s important to remind yourself that what you see on social media is not always the true picture. Many people use filters, effects, and photoshop to enhance the illusion of perfection. Well, the simple truth is that nobody is perfect. From an emotional standpoint, taking breaks from social media is a healthy strategy. A digital detox can provide time for introspection, renewal, and help create a new mindset that encourages other activities.
Likes Do Not = Self-Worth
It’s also important to try to detach yourself from the outcome of your posts or tweets. As studies suggest, this approach is easier said than done. An article published in Psychological Science compares the effect of “likes” on our brain’s reward circuitry to winning money or eating chocolate. In reality, “likes” do not equal validation. Remember that the amount of likes you get has nothing to do with who you are, your intellect, how attractive you are, or how many friends you have. Simply reminding yourself that you don’t need an image or post to be liked can be powerful and effective.
Understand Privacy Settings
Whether it’s from prying eyes or the harmful intent of a cyber criminal, it’s vital to protect your privacy on social media. Each platform has its own privacy settings and you should know how each of these settings work. For example, on Facebook you can easily restrict who can see your profile, posts, and photos. Always keep your settings up to date as site policies change periodically. In addition, be aware of what public information is on your profile. Even if they are private, social media profiles can still publicly display details like your bio, education, or employer.
Build A Positive Digital Reputation
Before you post anything on social media, be mindful of what you are about to share with the world. Friends, family, and potential employers can all view your social presence. Poor decisions like posting negative content or controversial photos can stick with a person for a long time. Once you post something on social media, it lives forever. So think twice before you post any negative comments. Words have tremendous power – so a good rule to follow is to keep your posts positive, honest, relevant, uplifting, and informative.
Give Your Phone A Rest At Night
Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, your phone may be what’s causing you to toss and turn at night. When it’s time to turn off the lights for bedtime, the last thing our brain needs is more information. Our smartphones keep our mind psychologically engaged as our brains are trying to power down after a long, productive day. Even just a quick glance at social media can stimulate our minds and prolong restful sleep. And that blue light from your screen – it suppresses melatonin which causes us to experience insomnia, tiredness, and irritability. If you use technology at night, maybe it’s time to set some bedtime phone rules. Try cutting off screen time one hour or even 30 minutes before you go to sleep. You can also make a habit of leaving your phone in another room for the night. It’s important to establish a nighttime routine and discourage activities that could lead to anxiety or insomnia. So log off, say goodnight, and sleep well!
Social media is a part of our daily lives and helps us stay connected in a vast digital world. Now more than ever, it’s vital to be aware of our social media usage and how to use the medium responsibly to improve our mental health as well as living a more productive and fulfilling life.