Social Media Addiction: 3 Signs You’ve Got It Bad

7/29/14 2:30PM EST

Social Media Addiction 3 Signs Youve Got it Bad 2 Social Media Addiction: 3 Signs Youve Got It Bad

We often laugh and joke about silly addictions: caffeine, junk food, smartphones, etc. We consider them to be in a different realm than serious addictions like drugs and alcohol. But anything with which you have an addictive relationship is harmful, even if the effects are minor.

Here are three ways to tell if you should be spending a little less time plastered to the screen:

1. Devices

First, consider this question: How many devices do you use to log onto your social media accounts?

Most of us probably have about two ways to check social media: computer and phone, for example. However, even those two may be excessive if you find yourself constantly staring at your phone during free time. On the other hand, if you find yourself hoarding social media access (e.g. if your phone, iPad, home computer and work computer are all primarily for social media browsing), you’ve probably got it bad. One simple solution is to remove Internet access from your cell phone plan. Having Internet access on your cell phone often serves as nothing more than a distraction from life.

2. Frustration

This is harder to detect than the first sign, as it takes a bit of self-observation. Assuming we’ve all seen the copy machine scene in “Office Space,” it’s no secret just how much frustration devices are capable of causing us.

Think about how often you repeatedly check your accounts, for no reason. Do you ever feel bored and frustrated if you have no notifications; or on the contrary, overwhelmed and stressed if you have too many? Do you ever scroll through social media sites for hours without reason? All of these scenarios point to an excess of social media.
Also, it’s worth noting that if you use a computer, phone, or any other device on a regular basis that works poorly, stop using it as soon as possible. You may not realize the cumulative effect, but if a device consistently fails (eg. computer losing your work, phone freezing, etc.), it contributes to a lot of frustration on a regular basis.

So don’t end up destroying things like the guys in “Office Space “(or do, if it helps you). Get away from those devices that seem like they were designed to ruin your life. If you have the money, go buy a new device that works. If you don’t have the money, limit your usage, borrow from someone or save up for something better in the meantime.

3. Time

Timing ourselves during leisure is certainly not something that we typically do during the day. But if you’re curious about how you spend (or waste) your time, try it for a day. You can simply look at a clock before and after browsing on social media sites. You can even set a timer on your phone to track the amount of time spent online.

The biggest red flag, of course, is if you find that the majority of your day takes place online. If most of your online hours can’t be accounted for (eg. nothing meaningful was accomplished), that’s a big sign that you should curb the habit. On the other hand, if your job requires you to spend a lot of time in front of a computer, you have all the more reason to limit social media time, as you already spend a disproportionate amount of time online.

Curing Your Social Media Addiction

Remember that you also have the option to completely delete many social media accounts and even of “delete” your Facebook. If you want to take a break or narrow down your accounts to the most important ones, consider cutting back on the ones that just kill time. No social media site is universally the most useful one. That depends on your interests, your career and many other factors in your life.

Reducing time spent online can improve your life in ways you didn’t expect. You could get more physical exercise, relax more, become more social or experience a slew of other improvements simply by being conscious of your Internet usage.

You may also want to read this Wall Street Insanity article on why you should do a social media detox.

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