How to Develop a Healthier Relationship with Social Media

By Franklin Zhu, JED Student Ambassador

Social media is everywhere. It has allowed people to connect at any time and place, and especially during the pandemic, it has become an essential tool. Businesses and schools are able to use Zoom to hold meetings or teach classes. Teenagers are sharing hilarious videos over TikTok and photos on Instagram. For better or for worse, social media is consuming our daily lives.

For the majority of my life, social media has been a tool to keep in touch with friends and family, gain insight from people with like interests, and to just take my mind off things. However, with quarantine keeping me indoors for almost the entirety of most days, I began using social media as a mindless time filler. There really wasn’t anything interesting on it but it was so easy to access and it felt like it was the only thing to do. Social media was no longer beneficial for my mental health as the easy source of temporary surges of dopamine caused me to be unmotivated to work toward my long term goals. I wanted to finish a project, but my brain constantly sought entertainment.

After realizing this, I decided to act on my awareness and set goals for myself to use social media in a healthier manner. Over time, I found that my attention span for tasks improved and I could actually get stuff done. Additionally, refraining from social media has freed up so much time, which has allowed me to further my extracurricular activities and pursue things that I am passionate about. I am genuinely happy with the direction that my life is now heading.

On a surface level, social media is great. It provides a platform to share ideas and connect with others. However, more and more people are starting to use this amazing tool in the wrong way. Popular influencers and movies like The Social Dilemma have put the issue of unhealthy social media use at the forefront of society. People are starting to care more because it really is everywhere.

As a junior in high school, I’ve experienced academic pressures first hand. I believe that encouraging a balanced and healthy lifestyle is key to helping other teens succeed. As a JED Student Ambassador, I’m able to not only provide my own insight as a student but also hear other perspectives on the struggles young people are facing and share ways to help.

Here are some tips I’ve used to develop a healthier relationship with social media.

  1. Be aware of your habits–Start to notice times when you use your phone as a time filler. Take note of those times and try to avoid using your phone.
  2. Use the screen time feature–This feature can put time limits on the usage of certain apps. My strategy is to use the screen time feature to set reminders for me to take breaks after 15 minutes. The ability to keep track of my daily and weekly usage also motivated me greatly to limit my screen time.
  3. Delete apps –One of the main causes of unhealthy social media usage is how easy it is to access your phone. Instead of having the apps on your phone which can be used with one click wherever you are, limit your social media usage to laptop or desktop a computer.
  4. Turn off notifications–There are so many unnecessary apps that are competing for your attention. By turning off your notifications, the constant sense of urgency to check your phone will decline.

To learn more about how to develop a healthy relationship with social media, check out our Pressure to be Perfect toolkit, created in collaboration with Instagram.

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