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Eight in 10 (79%) of us are now on social media, rising to 99% of 18-29 year olds.

According to the Sensis Social Media Report, eight in 10 (79%) of us are now on social media, rising to 99% of 18-29 year olds. While we are increasingly accessing our social networks, some are worried they are spending too much time online.

Here are four signs you may need to cut back on your daily bathroom selfies, food porn shots or toilet swipes and what you can do to kick the habit.

1.      You feel anxious when you can’t get online

Do you panic when you can’t find your phone? The Sensis survey revealed that more than a third of 18-29 year olds feel anxious when separated from their social accounts. Excessive social media use can re-wire your brain, with every like or retweet acting as a reward and releasing small doses of dopamine that make you crave more. So what happens when you can’t check your phone and get those dopamine hits? Like any addiction, you will have withdrawals with anxiety a common symptom. You can stop these feelings by setting limits on your usage and sticking to them.

2.      You ‘phub’ family and friends

The Sensis research found that more than half of the population are checking social media first thing in the morning and in the evening. For couples, checking social media in bed has the potential to impact on their romantic relationships, as they are distracted from the important rituals that maintain their emotional connection with their partner.

A third of 30-39 year olds are also ‘phubbing’ (phone snubbing) their family and friends at dinner. If you can’t get through a meal without checking your notifications, consider putting your phone on aeroplane mode until you kick the habit.

3.      You forget to enjoy the moment

Four in 10 people have posted ‘food porn’ on social media, rising to double that amount for 18-29 year olds, while similar numbers have posted selfies. It’s great to capture key moments and share them with your friends and family. In fact, almost two-thirds of 18-29 year olds feel excited when their post has received more likes on social media than they expected.

Yet how often do you see friends at a cafe checking in on social that they’re there with each other – and what they’re eating – rather than having an actual conversation? Some people can feel pressure to compete in a fantasy world of posts that sometimes bear little resemblance to the reality of their day-to-day lives. Remember to try to live in the moment rather than obsessing with how something will look or trying to compete with social influencers. They are paid to be on social media, whereas you are not, and not everyone needs to see the avo egg smash you had for breakfast.

4.      You hide in strange places to check social media

People are using social media everywhere, including the gym and cinema. Usage while on the toilet is now normal for 14% of the population and even more common among men (17%) and 18-29 year olds (29%). If you are compelled to leave a social situation to hide in the cubicle and scroll through your feeds then social media might be feeding social anxiety issues. It’s important when you are at social events to be in the moment, rather than distracted by who might have sent you a snap or tagged you in a post.

There’s no doubt social media can have many benefits in helping us stay connected, but as with most things you need to set some limits. If in doubt, speak to family and friends to establish if your social media usage has gone unnoticed, or if it’s driving them crazy. If you, or they, identify there is a problem, it’s time for a digital detox. 

 

Rob Tolliday

Digital Spokesperson, Sensis

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