Social media has grown to be a normal part of our everyday life, almost like a schedule, and this is both a boon and a bane. On one side, it has made communicating and networking a whole lot easier, but on the other side, it has some serious effects on our mental health.
In early 2017, the #StatusofMind survey found that among all social media platforms, Instagram has the worst effects on the mental health of young people, impacting their body image and sleep, and makes them develop the fear of missing out (FOMO). Too much of anything is never good, so how do you decide when social media is doing you more harm than good?
Here is a checklist to see if you are among the many people who are addicted to social media. If you find yourself guilty of most of the items on the list, it may be time for a social media detox.
- You check your phone as soon as you wake up
One of the most common traits of almost every social media addict is checking their phones and going through all their social media accounts first thing in the morning. If you just cannot wait to update yourself with all that was happening in the virtual world while you were asleep, you will tap on all the notifications you have missed to update yourself as soon as you wake up. If this is the case with you, then social media is definitely doing you more harm than you realize.
- The number of likes and comments you get affect your mood
If you often find yourself in a visibly good mood every time you receive more “likes” or comments than expected on a picture or status or you’re in a bad mood when you do not get many likes and comments, it implies that you are seriously addicted to social media and influenced by it heavily.
While social media can help us connect easily with other people, using it too heavily can isolate us instead. It can seriously affect our self-esteem because we can’t help but compare ourselves to others, and in the world of likes and hashtags, how we view ourselves, unfortunately, depends on what others think of us.
- You can’t do anything without taking post-worthy pictures
One sign that clearly points towards social media addiction is if you take pictures of literally everything you do or everywhere you go. Sure, it’s okay and normal to take a few pictures of some noteworthy moments, but if you find that you can’t eat a meal before taking a picture or you take mirror selfies in the dressing rooms every time, it’s definitely a sign that you are addicted to social media. The pressure of giving your best effort to take an Instagram-worthy picture, no matter what you do, is a common problem.
- You stress out over choosing the right caption
For social media addicts, choosing the right caption to go with every picture is as important as the act of choosing the perfect picture itself. You’ll want to sound cool, smart or funny in your captions, and try to come up with the perfect one that will attract the most likes and comments.
Sometimes, you may even find yourself Googling a caption or asking your friends to help you out if you’ve been breaking your head for hours but cannot come up with the right caption. On top of this, there’s also the pressure of using the right hashtags so your photo can get as many views as possible.
- You spend hours just scrolling through social media
Even if you do not have anything in particular to do, you will still scroll through your feed for hours and hours, and occasionally reach the end of the “infinite feed”. It does not matter what you are looking at – whether the latest memes or posts by fashion bloggers or just videos of cats – you will find a way to feed yourself with unnecessary information.
Procrastination is one of the worst effects of social media addiction, and most of us fall so easily to its inviting claws. It’s never 'not surprising' how fast time flies when you’re scrolling through social media, looking for ways to distract yourself.
- You do a lot of things “for the gram”
You know you are a social media addict when you start doing a lot of things “for the gram”. The phrase simply means going out of your way to take a picture that is Instagram-worthy or simply doing something in life just so you can show off on Instagram. For example, going to a hip café just so you can take pictures and show all your virtual friends that you’ve been there or buying the latest fashion trends just so you can take pictures and post it on social media, especially Instagram.
- 'No WiFi' is unbearable for you
For a person who is obsessed with social media, 'no WiFi' is not even an option. They must be connected to the Internet 24/7 as they have a serious case of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). If you are addicted to social media, you will become restless or easily bored without an Internet connection since you cannot scroll through your social media feed. For this reason, you will find that buildings that do not offer free WiFi, is a huge no-no for you.
- Running low on battery is never an option
If you are addicted to social media, it eventually becomes normal for you to check your phone after every few hours, because of which you take every possible measure to make sure that your phone does not die on you. You will carry a power bank or a charger with you everywhere you go to make sure that your battery doesn't run out and you never go offline.
This fear of your screen shutting down on you is so prevalent that it even has a name – nomophobia. Checking your phone and scrolling through all social media is so deeply integrated into your everyday life that it has become a norm for you.
- Your friends contact you mostly through social media
Sure, there are other forms of instant communication like text messages and phone calls, but if you are a social media addict, your friends will almost always get in touch with you through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. They know that you are always online, so it’s probably the fastest way to contact you.
When you spend your time on such apps 24/7, tapping on every notification and replying as soon as possible to every comment or message, it’s a sure sign that you have an unhealthy relationship with social media.
- You’re on your phone even in a social situation
Lastly, if you are always on your phone, laughing at memes or liking pictures on your feed even when you are with friends, family or partner, it implies that you may be spending way too much time on social media. You have to pay attention to the real-life relationships that you have instead of focusing so much on virtual relationships. In fact, researchers at Baylor University found that checking your phone constantly while you’re on a date with your partner could lead to lower relationship satisfaction levels.