Empty hands and a distracted life: Getting over my social media addiction

by | Dec 12, 2022 | Arts & Life

It’s no secret that many individuals are addicted to social media. Some use social media heavily enough to cause issues in relationships, work and school. The consequences of not tracking your time on social media while in post-secondary can be detrimental to students. For over two years, I worked on slowly distancing myself from social media as I recognized that these areas of my life were suffering due to poor time management. I was chronically glued to my phone, picking it up every moment my hands felt empty to check the notification screen. Gradually, I made changes to my social media usage to lower the number of hours I’d spend a day – but it wasn’t enough. I never thought I would be addicted to social media until I finally checked my phone time usage. I was shocked to discover a whopping minimum of eight hours spent on Instagram every day. I knew it was time to turn my life around.

The solution can be more challenging than deleting distracting applications for good. Those who run business or professional social media accounts may find it difficult to break away, just as I did. Running an art account has always been my excuse for keeping Instagram and Twitter. After realizing my time spiked over eight hours, I cut out social media as much as possible to focus on school. I noticed dramatic changes in my time management skills.

The most significant change I made to track my social media use included setting up parental controls on my phone. Since starting this semester, I have limited my time on Instagram and Twitter to 10 minutes. Ten minutes is perfect for creating a post or checking my phone during washroom breaks. Now, two months into the school year, I rarely reach the 10-minute limit. It isn’t a perfect solution for someone who lacks the willpower to avoid adding more time when it’s convenient, but it’s a great starting point. Even if you set this timer up and continuously snooze it, at least you can’t lie to yourself about your time usage.

“I was shocked to discover a whopping minimum of eight hours spent on Instagram every day. I knew it was time to turn my life around.”

Immediately after setting up limitations, I found I had a lot of time to focus on schoolwork. Procrastinating became something of the past; I had ample time to plan and work on what was important to me. Instead of spending my time on inefficient and distracted studying, I made time to make friends, read a few books, create a club here at NAIT, and even enroll in the Blue Book program – all on top of my full course load. 

Not only can I do more within 24 hours, but my relationships with my family and partner improved significantly. My attention is no longer a splitting road, where every interaction is divided between them and social media distractions. Although I don’t call or text my partner as often as before my social media break, our relationship is much healthier when we aren’t clinging to each other’s digital backs every hour of the day. The time spent with my partner is more enjoyable and fulfilling with fewer distractions. 

Unsurprisingly, taking a break from something that occupies most of the day can cause you to find other activities to fill in the gaps. My alternative was checking my email five times as often as usual. I noticed a habit re-forming, similar to my social media addiction. Since this one was new and recognizable, I could catch myself and continue my path towards better use of my time.

cover illustration by Mihiri Kamiss

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