Photo Credit: OnlyMyHealth

Easy tips to manage unhealthy social media habits (Op-Ed)

With social media permeating so many aspects of our everyday lives, it can be difficult to find a healthy balance between keeping up with trends, friends, and current events while also maintaining adequate boundaries and constructive habits for the sake of our mental health. 

It’s no secret that social media platforms, in every aspect from their user interface to their algorithm, are designed from the ground up to keep us engaged for long periods of time. By cherry-picking videos, pictures, and general posts that we have shown even a slightly above-average degree of interest in, these platforms have perfected a formula designed to cater to our outer and innermost desires, necessities, interests, hobbies, values, and general lifestyle. 

While there is an overwhelmingly positive portion of social media that allows for genuine human connection, large swaths of knowledge and advice, legitimate news, wholesome entertainment, and more, there is an arguable, equal shadow that creates content with no regard for the wellbeing of the audience viewing it.

There are a few simple tips that you can incorporate into your daily scrolling habits to either avoid this content entirely, and/or restructure your algorithm and save your mental state some grief along the way. 

1. Set Boundaries and Limit Screen Time

One of the most effective ways to curb unhealthy social media habits is by setting clear boundaries and limits on your screen time. Designate specific periods for engaging with social media, and stick to them. Consider using screen time trackers or app limits to help you monitor and control your usage. Additionally, establishing tech-free zones in your home, such as during meals or before bedtime, can provide much-needed respite from the constant influx of digital information.

2. Cultivate Critical Thinking Skills

With misinformation and fake news circulating on social media platforms, it’s essential to hone your critical thinking skills to discern fact from fiction. Before sharing or reacting to posts, take a moment to evaluate the credibility of the source and the validity of the information presented. Look for corroborating evidence from reputable sources and be wary of content that evokes strong emotional responses or aligns too closely with your preconceived beliefs.

3. Curate Your Social Media Feed

Take control of your digital experience by curating your social media feed to reflect your interests and values positively. Unfollow accounts that contribute to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, or negativity, and instead seek out accounts that inspire and uplift you. Additionally, prioritize quality over quantity by unfollowing accounts that serve no meaningful purpose in your life, freeing up mental space for more enriching experiences offline.

By implementing these tips, you can take proactive steps to mitigate the negative effects of social media on your mental health and well-being. Remember that moderation is key, and cultivating a healthy relationship with social media is an ongoing process that requires mindfulness and self-awareness. 

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