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Five Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Social Media

5 ways to improve your relationships title with a man and woman each looking at their phones

Don’t get us wrong: Social media is wonderful. It keeps you in touch with friends and family. It makes you laugh. It shows you the world. Chances are you’re reading this blog because you saw it on social media. (Thanks, btw.)

And it’s because social is so great that it’s, well, complicated. The first problem is time: The average scroller spends over two hours a day on social.[1] Between classes, studying, work, and family, most Bryant & Stratton students don’t have two hours a day to spare.

The other problem is how social makes you feel. The cat memes are great for lolz, but studies show that over the long term, heavy social media use is correlated with an increased risk for depression.[2] Seeing all our friends showing off their seemingly best lives can make us feel worse about ours. Plus, mindlessly scrolling can become addictive, making us feel anxious and unfocused when we finally put down our phones.

What’s the answer, then? Well, a good start would be thinking about social media like food. You need it. But if you want to feel your best, you also need to consume the right kinds of social media, in the right amounts, in the right way.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to feel more in control of your social media diet:

Schedule Some Phone-Free Time Every Day

Scrolling is like snacking. You tell yourself you’re only going to do a little of it, and before you know it, an hour’s gone by, and the bag is empty.

To break up your tendency to scroll mindlessly, it can help to set aside a specific time of day where you put your devices out of reach and focus on the moment. It could be 20 minutes or two hours. It could be in the mornings, afternoons, or evenings. The important part is that you’re being intentional and taking back control of your time.

Focus on Real Friends

If you have 100 connections on social, chances are only five or six are real friends: people who truly nourish you. Focus on them. Instead of skimming through your feed to see what everyone you’ve ever met is up to, reach out directly to those people you care about — with a text message, DM, or a group chat — to see how they’re doing.

Unfollow Toxic Accounts

Your experience on social media should spark joy. Full stop. If you’re following an account that annoys you, makes you feel bad about yourself, or even just bores you, unfollow, block, or mute it.

Declutter Your Feed

We often add connections on social, but we rarely remove them. The result is that we’re seeing updates from our brother’s former coworker’s cousin five times a day and it can be too much useless information for our brains to deal with.

Go through your connections every six months and drop the people, pages, and businesses you don’t feel connected to anymore.

Put Your Phone to Bed Early

The one thing every college student needs more of is sleep, and your smartphone could be messing with yours. The blue light emitted by smartphone screens while we’re posting, poking, and liking all evening interferes with the body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Avoid looking at your phone for at least an hour before you go to bed, and you’ll set yourself up for a better night.

[1] https://review42.com/resources/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-social-media/#:~:text=To%20summarize%20how%20much%20time,around%20153%20minutes%20per%20day.

[2] https://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20201214/too-much-social-media-time-could-raise-risk-of-depression


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