Tips for Cutting Social Media Use and Being Online in a Healthier Way

Perhaps it’s a happy couple vacationing on a beach in Greece and sticking their feet in the sand. Or a family that always seems to hike together and no one complains about the hot sun or how long it takes to get back to the car. Maybe it’s the perfect meal, expertly presented on a busy weeknight.

Seeing these images of contentment and positivity on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook can make some people feel as if others are enjoying life more.

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, said this week that social media, while beneficial for some, could pose a “significant risk of harm” to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. He warned that there was evidence to suggest that .

Mental health professionals say there are strategies—some practical, some more philosophical—that everyone can use to engage with social media in healthier ways and limit harm. Says.

Dawn Bounds — psychiatric and mental health nurse, Advisory Board of the American Psychological Association On social media and youth mental health, she said she was intentional about the accounts she followed and the videos she watched.

Dr. Bounds, an assistant professor at the Sue and Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California, Irvine, said she likes to follow accounts of people who promote mental health and social justice, and that accounts “fulfill me.” gives me inspiration,” he said. . Dr. Bounds, who is black, also likes funny content like this: black people and pets on Instagram.

At the same time, he said he avoids viral videos of police shooting unarmed people. Videos can be traumatic, he said. And with so many trolls and bad actors online, “I have no problem unfollowing, muting, or blocking people I don’t want in a thread,” she said. said.

“In practice, it’s important to curate the experience yourself rather than relying entirely on these algorithms, because these algorithms don’t always put the user’s best interests first.” Dr. Bounds said. “You are your best protector.”

Jacqueline Neshi, an assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, says social media can interfere with other activities such as going out, exercising, talking to family and friends and, perhaps most importantly, sleeping. said there may be an overuse of University.

Dr. Neshi recommended a more “mindful” approach of “stepping back and thinking about what you are seeing.” If content makes you sick, all you have to do is unfollow or block the account, she says.

Dr. Neshi said it’s hard to be mindful of how you use social media. Some apps are designed to be used mindlessly to keep people scrolling through endless video streams and targeted content (clothing, makeup and wellness product sales). It seems to be a body. to satisfy our desires.

When people reach for their cell phone, it can be helpful to be “interested” and ask, “What made you do that?” said Nina Vasan, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University.

“Are you looking for connection because you’re lonely?” Dr. Vasan said in an email. “Or do you want to distract yourself from difficult emotions?”

She suggested asking yourself, “What do I need right now, and can I meet this need without resorting to social media?”

Dr. Vasan said people should think twice about why they pick up their phones and then unfollow accounts that make them feel anxious, depressed or lower their self-esteem.

At the same time, we need to follow more accounts that make us feel good, make us feel better, and make us laugh. Perhaps they feature cooking videos with simple steps and ingredients, or healing clips of the pool being cleaned, which have racked up millions of views on TikTok.

“Think of these actions as spring cleaning,” Dr. Vasan says. “Today you can do it. After that, you should repeat these behaviors regularly when exciting new things happen in the news or in your life, or when your passions change.”

Dr. Neshi recommends charging your phone outside your bedroom at night, not using it an hour before bedtime, and usually setting a time during the day when you don’t use technology and keeping your phone out of your hands. We recommend that you place it in a place where it cannot be reached. Dr. Mercy suggested avoiding using the device during family meal times.

Experts also recommended turning off the notifications you get when accounts you follow are updated. You can also remove social media apps from your phone and use them only on your desktop or laptop computer. That way, you may be less likely to get into bad FOMO.

Bounds said he deleted Facebook and Instagram on his phone after his 20-year-old son deleted Instagram on his phone. This has reduced the amount of time wasted online. “She did it when she was applying for a grant,” she said. “It was a tactic I had to focus on.”

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