How To Reduce Social Media Addiction (Even If It’s Part Of Your Job)

5 min read

I quit social media (kind of)…

This is not a detox, I repeat this is not a detox.

Ask any of my friends and family, and they’d say that I have a very unhealthy ‘passion’ for social media. I’d sleep with my phone under my pillow and navigate my day ensuring my phone was always within arms reach. It was like a security blanket: if I was bored of a conversation or if someone made me feel uncomfortable I’d seek solace scrolling through my phones with – you know – people who actually knew me, all 905 of them, like the friend from elementary school who I haven’t spoken to in 25 years.

Maybe my job had something to do with my social media addiction? Perhaps I needed that rush of dopamine when someone liked my photo? Maybe it was a combination of both. For five years I worked for a world class brand as its Social Media Manager. This role meant that I had to stay abreast of all the latest platform developments on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat etc. But I also thought that if I was to hold myself out as an ‘expert’ in this field, I needed a following to match.

Social media addiction
Social media addiction, how to give it the flick

Are you on social media before you even get out of bed?

I remember about 10 years ago I admitted to my friends that the first thing I did every morning to help me ‘wake up’, along with my alarm clock, was to scroll through my social media updates. Typically it went: Facebook, then Instagram then along came Snapchat, which was eventually invaded by the Kardashians. Before I knew it I had been mind numbingly scrolling for over half an hour. Every. Day. My friends gave me puzzled looks and lots of side-eye, but 10 years on I know I’m not the only one.

My half an hour scroll is well below the average time spent in say, Brazil, where they scroll for up to 3.3 hours through social media platforms a day. No thank you, please.

Life limiting social media

I started to realise how much my social media addiction had changed my behaviour. I’d be at home and my husband and I would be watching Netflix in the evenings. Without realizing it we would each have our phones in our hands doing something very dirty. The s-word. Scrolling. Where we should have been doing some other s’s instead… speaking, snuggling (and I’ll let your imagination go here)…

The social media addiction time-sink

Where did all that time go? I decided I wanted it back.

I wanted my mornings back, those precious moments in the morning to either give my husband a cuddle or to slowly wake up on my own rather than literally kill time on my phone.

I wanted to be more present in everything I was doing.

I wanted to be more deliberate in who I was interacting with, making my time more worth it and making the best use of it.

Social media addiction solutions

So I semi-quit social. Yes, a bit anti-climatic perhaps, but let me break it down for you:

1. Make it harder to access Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat on the go

First I removed mobile data access for Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It’s a process people. Going cold turkey or rather “off the grid” is pretty hard because my work and life is very social platform heavy. This is not only where my friends are from around the world but where my globe-trotting family is too. I do like seeing their updates.

2. If you don’t need your phone need it, leave it behind

Second, I started leaving my phone behind. If I was popping out for lunch or running a quick errand down the street. As long as someone knew my whereabouts or one of us had a phone for emergencies I knew I would be ok. Remember, there was a time not too long along where mobile phones were not even a “thing”.

3. Check Facebook on your desktop (only)

This, I took Facebook off my phone and made it available on my desktop. If I want to check up on a friend or get a sense of what’s happening within my social circles, I’ll log in on my laptop. Funnily enough, things don’t change much around there. The fake news is still fake, cats are still doing dumb shit (no offense cat lovers) and Trump is still President.

So why did I waste so much time on it before?

4. Delete social media from your phone

After a few weeks of this, I then deleted – yes, I repeat, DELETED Facebook, Instagram and snapchat from my personal phone.

Now here’s the caveat, I only have Instagram on my work phone and here are the reasons why:

a) I don’t bring work phones into the bedroom: I have a strict rule for this. No work phones allowed in the bedroom, so I don’t go to sleep or wake up with constant ‘pings’. No work phone means no access to social platforms. Simple.

b) I really like Instagram for its storytelling capabilities and it’s one of my favourite creative outlets. I love to travel and take photos on my phone, and the platform is optimized for mobile use – I use it to create my personal photo journal.

5. Follow people on social media who add value to your life

I had an Instagram following cleanse by unfollowing trendy pajama brands and waif bikini influencers because, WTF am I thinking? How is this adding value to me and my life?

Now I follow people, family members and friends who matter to me and bring something to the table.

This has cleared away more time to listen to my favourite podcasts, read books, look up at the sky, actually notice my surroundings and who I’m with. It doesn’t always have to be through a screen or a filter.

My eyes are open, I feel more engaged with myself and the world around me.

Can you do social media in moderation?

Hell, I’m not perfect by any means. But I have de-prioritised social media, because it was taking up too much space in my mind and in my life.

Everything in moderation, right? Sometimes I go a little off-balance, but I have created the boundaries to help me to get back to where I need to be.

My eyes are open, I feel more engaged with myself and the world around me.

This works for me, and you gotta do you, baby.

How do you manage your social media intake? Have you beat your social media addiction? 

Olivia x

You might also be interested in Did Quitting Social Media Make Me Happier? Yup, Here’s Why.

Meet Olivia

Olivia Cain is a content marketer and avid storyteller based in Hong Kong.

social media addiction


Social media addiction is real…

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