Social media is great — but also not.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok… there are 7.7 billion people in the world, and 3,499 billion of them are on social media — that’s 45% of the earth. And while social media has the potential to empower individuals and inspire social movements, it can also weigh down our lives with dispensable negativity. At the very least, our phone screens distract us from our daily lives.
According to one study, more than half of teenagers who use social media report that it regularly distracts them from homework and/or the people they’re surrounded by.
In late 2018, Forbes published two studies about social media’s impact on mental health. One study, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, requested that 140 undergrads either continue their regular Facebook, Snapchat, and Insagram use regularly or limit it to 30 minutes total, daily. After three weeks, those who limited their use experienced decreased depression, feelings of loneliness, and anxiety.
The other study –was conducted at York University — discovered that upon seeing other women that they felt were more attractive than them, the female undergraduate participants felt worse about themselves. Researchers confirmed that, even though some of these young women had poor self images before the study, each woman felt even worse after they were finished.
The dissatisfaction social media can bring is inarguably evident, but as author Jia Tolentino puts it, the internet has become “a central organ” of contemporary life. It’s hard to curtail your online usage without feeling left out of a defining millennial experience.
But don’t worry! The Killer And A Sweet Thang editorial staff has compiled some tips for you to use social media, specifically Instagram, more healthily.
Utilize your iPhone’s screen time limits.
Did you know that you can set time limits for how long you spend on certain apps? A notification will pop up notifying you if you’ve already hit your max for, in this case, Instagram that day — from there, you can choose whether or not to enter the app. It’s a nice way to monitor and possibly minimize your screen time.
If you have an iPhone, access Settings and scroll to “Screen Time.” Here, you’ll find how much and on which apps you spend the most time. WARNING: it can be a little shocking!
The unfollow and block and mute buttons exist for a reason — don’t be afraid to use them.
For a lot of folks, it’s not realistic to delete social media entirely. But considering how much time we spend on the app, you reserve the right to control who enters your digital space. Sure, people may call you “petty” if you block them, but some people deserve to be blocked. Besides, what’s petty about protecting your mental health?
Now, for the more nuanced situations we suggest the mute feature. This makes it so you never have to see so-and-so’s Instagram posts or stories. This is perfect for those people who make you feel some type of way. Intentions aside, whether they make you feel bad about yourself, self-conscious, or remind you of someone you’re trying to forget — muting is a good tool to keep them off your feed and off your mind.
Leave your phone on the other side of the room.
This may sound silly, but when you’re feeling particularly anxious, sometimes you need to add some physical distance between you and the rest of the world. Switch your phone to silent, flip it over, and leave it out of reach. Take deep breaths, listen to some music… IDK maybe masturbate — do your best to focus on your immediate interactions.
Try moving the Instagram app to the last page on your home screen.
Make Instagram harder to get to by adding some virtual distance between you and the app icon. Even seeing that purple-ly orange-y logo is super tempting, even when you’re doing something else on your phone. Resist her siren call.
Curate your feed.
Ever feel too tuned in? Constantly seeing what your peers are up to — whether it’s their fun night out or their shiny new job — can cause FOMO (fear of missing out) and inspire counterproductive comparisons. Try following more lighthearted content providers, like meme or travel accounts. Or sex education resources, like @killerandasweetthang.
If an account gives you a weird feeling, don’t over analyze it — just hit unfollow. Fill your feed with things that your make you smile rather than ignite stress.
It’s easy to feel as though you need to keep your followers updated on your every move. Oftentimes, we’re afraid that our social audience will interpret inactivity as a sign that we’re sitting alone in bed, squandering our lives away. Odds are our followers are not terribly concerned with our online performance. After all, they have their own lives (and online performance) to fret over. So screw the self-imposed pressure!
If you’re feeling stressed or weird about social media, the remedy is not using it more. Take a step back. It may be hard to resist the urge to post a new story at least once a day, but we promise that the longer you wait between posts, the easier it becomes.
Turn off your Instagram notifications.
When someone likes or comments on your photo — you get a notification. Then you probably check it… but then you go to the homepage and keep scrolling, right? It’s natural, or at the very least, common. A simple way to limit your time on Instagram is to mute the notifications, to avoid temptation. 20 minutes of browsing can quickly turn into an hour.
Say it with us… hang up and hang out!
When you’re with other people, engage in human conversation and put your phone away. I know that we hear this all the time, but what are you really missing when you don’t check your phone for two hours?
Try to focus more on what’s physically happening, not what’s being posted.
Analyze your intentions.
If you notice Instagram is bringing your mood down, but it’s difficult to change/alter your social media habits — ask yourself why. What kind of pressure or value are you projecting onto this virtual space?
Photos (in order of appearance) by Daniela Guevara, Alexa Fahlman, and Leanna Turone.