I Think I’m Addicted to Social Media

A few years ago, I read this book called The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, for my first year communications class. The booshallowsk focuses on the effects the Internet has on our brains; looking at how different our productivity, concentration, creativity, etc, are with the Internet being such a prominent figure in our lives. He found that there is a significant difference between the brains of those who regularly use the Internet and all it entails and those who don’t. He also found that his ability to focus on reading a book diminished because he wasn’t able to sit down and read without loosing his concentration, because he’d get distracted by his phone or quickly loose interest. His ability to think deeply on topics that used to intrigue him and doing research became taxing. His thought process and the way his brain accepted information changed with the increase of new technology. After reading this book, I seriously noticed the change my life undertook because of the internet.

I was born in the early 90’s, so my childhood was a mixture of the classic ‘go play outside’ kid thing and experimenting  on the new household computer that came with dial up Internet. Looking back on my childhood  and comparing it to the kind of childhood kids have now, I’m glad that I wasn’t a computer/phone focused kid. I mean yes, they were around but since that technology was still in its infancy I felt I was able to have a fairly lax relationship with it. I loved reading when I was younger; so much so that I could usually finish a book in a single sitting. As I grew up and the internet took a more prominent seat in my life I noticed that I slowly stopped reading as much. My focus started to gravitate toward the internet and chatting online with friends. Now when I try to read a book, I can’t focus for more than a few minutes; I end up checking my phone or open an app to scroll through feeds until I remember I was trying to read. Same thing happened to me in class when I was in university. Whenever I got bored or I saw a notification light up my phone, I would check it and get distracted thus putting me behind in lecture. This became a vicious cycle.

My boyfriend hates when I’m on my phone, and I don’t blame him. I know I have problem which somehow makes my addiction worse. I like scrolling through Instagram, opening Snapchat stories, sending Snapchats, looking at my Facebook group messages. I feel connected and up to date with my friends and their lives. I like stumbling across new Instagram feeds for local restaurants or stores. With my acknowledgement of my problem though, I feel like I should take some steps to help me out and reorient my life.

I recently downloaded this Android app called QualityTime. It tracks your ‘digital diet’, or the amount of time you spend on apps. It tracks your history and shows your usage trends. This app has a feature that allows you to ‘take a break’ which helps to minimize your phone notifications, allowing you to focus on whatever it is that you are doing. I’ve only had this app for a few days, but already I can see how much I use my phone. Once I’ve had the app for a bit longer, I’ll have a better sense of my phone habits which will help me switch off my phone more often. There is a similar app for Apple users called Moment, which tracks your overall usage of your Apply products.

 

During finals in university I always struggled with focusing on studying because my computer posed too much of a distraction. I found these programs to be useful to me when I was trying to procrastinate. For Windows users, there is a site called Cold Turkey and for Mac users, an app called Self Control. Both sites do similar things, such as blocking certain websites for a set time period. These programs have gone through some major modifications since the last time I used it, but all for the better, including updates toward having a schedule, group settings, advanced settings, and more! These sites really help if you have no control and you know you’ll just end up on your favorite site.

I hope that I’ll be able to garner some control or at least balance between my online life and ‘real’ life. I honestly feel like the development of the internet just happened all at once and it took everyone by storm. It’s so overwhelming at times and since there’s so much you can do online, it can feel like you have to see and do it all. While I believe that what the internet and social media holds for us is important, it is more important to have a healthy ‘digital diet.’

Has anyone else had similar issues of feeling addicted to their phone/social media? 

Is this idea that the Internet has changed the way our brains think something we should look into? 

Let me know if you think these sites and apps are worth the effort or do you think its a mind over matter kind of situation. Until next time, check out this video from Refinery29, in which they ask people about their social media lives!

7 thoughts on “I Think I’m Addicted to Social Media

  1. Hi Adriana! I am also taking this course. I watched a video from Epipheo (youtu.be/cKaWJ72x1rI) which cited the Carr book you mentioned. Great insight!

    I personally don’t use the same services you use, but I still find the need to curate and limit my time spent online. Some tips for me are turning off auto-loading of photos and videos on Twitter, plus being more effective at what videos and length I choose to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.

    • I’m glad someone else has heard of Carr!! I’ll check that video out, but since you mentioned turning off your auto-loading on twitter, I’m curious if you’ve seen this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7tA3NNKF0Q
      It talks about the auto loading of videos on Facebook. Let me know what you think about that. Since watching that video, I have also turned off my auto loading. They were very distracting and slowed down my phone actually.

  2. Really great post! As a mom to young kids, I struggle with the screen time and how it will affect my kids. They only use the iPad for playing their pre-school games or puzzles if it’s not educational it’s not allowed or for facetiming family. Facetime has backfired on me as now when they pick up the landline to talk they are asking why they can’t see the person they are talking to. On the other hand, we have promoted a lot of independent and imaginary play and lots of time reading books. They are only 3 but I often wonder what it will be like when they start school.

    • Thanks Angela! Yeah it’s almost like a new frontier with children in this realm of apps and tablets and phones. I heard about this website ( http://tocaboca.com/ ) through a blog I follow, which you might like to check out. They promote play time and creativity and they have this program, Stand For Play, which is just to support and promote playtime. Playing has lots of great benefits for kids and it’s important to find that balance as parents for your kids, especially with all the distractions we have now. I can only image how hard it is to make sure the things your kids are doing online is educational! I applaud your efforts because I know it must be hard! Let me know if you’ve heard of this website or any of their apps!

  3. I too am a social media addict @adrianaburke! My husband complains all the time when I am on my IPad trolling through Instagram, Twitter and playing Candy Crush in bed! I am even guilty of checking my phone throughout the night even when it is right beside me and I can clearly hear the notification when I have a message, email etc! It’s like an obsession! I am going to download the QualityTime App. I am interested (and scared! lol) to see the results. Maybe it will shame me into changing!!! ha. For my husband’s sake! 😛

    • Danielle I am the same way. As I was reviewing my app from this past week I noticed one night I went on Instagram for 16 seconds at 2:30 in the morning! I had no recollection of this but here I am, waking up in the middle of the night and my first instinct was to check my Instagram. This app really tracks everything and I like how much it can tell me! So far I haven’t made any changes, but that’s because I wanted to see what my habits were like before I started to make changes to my digital diet. I hope you like this app as much as I do! Keep me updated!

  4. Pingback: Full Circle – Algonquin College Social Media Certificate Program

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