How to Recognize Social Media Addiction

If you find yourself unable to put your smartphone away, constantly having it in hand while going to the toilet, eating dinner, going to bed, or traveling, it might be a sign of addiction, warns Rollenhagen, hitting too close to home for many of us with similar habits.

Seeking professional help might seem extreme, especially if we’ve normalized constant social media use. However, it could be crucial for uncovering the reasons behind the addiction, advises the UKAT. “Sometimes, an addiction is simply a plaster covering an open, untreated wound,” says Fernandes. This wound could be low self-esteem, poor mental health, stress, or anxiety, all of which can be treated, making social media less of a necessity in one’s life. Understanding our triggers can help us establish better boundaries for the future.

There are also practical measures we can take to limit our own use. A digital detox, where you significantly reduce the time spent using electronic devices, “could be a wise precaution,” advises the Addiction Center. “This can include simple steps, such as turning off sound notifications and only checking social media sites once an hour.” Rollenhagen agrees that creating boundaries where certain areas of life are smartphone-free – such as the bedroom and the toilet – is a good start. Being strict about only using one screen at a time (no scrolling while watching a film) can also help.

He recommends taking intentional breaks, starting with an hour and gradually building up, using digital tools to physically limit the time spent on apps, and getting out in nature without your device. The piece of advice that strikes me the most is this: “Try to do something where you can’t have a phone in your hand: dance, dive, climb.”

I picture all these activities in my mind – finally learning to tango, watching light slice through clear water, stretching to reach the next brightly colored handhold on the climbing wall – and then catch a glimpse of myself in reality, blank-faced, bent-necked, craned over the attention-sucking rectangle in my hand. “Stop. Put the phone down now.

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