Setting Boundaries for Social Media

Instagram recently rolled out a new feature on their app: a handy “you’re all caught up” notification in your feed when you’ve seen all of your new posts. It seems that our apps are giving us nudges to get offline more! Now I’m the biggest social proponent fan out there, but even I am an advocate for some boundaries with our usage of these platforms. If you’re struggling in that area, it’s good to have some starting points. 

Know yourself. 

The first place to start is to know yourself well enough to understand where your problem areas are with social media. Think about your day. When are you most likely to pull out your phone and start scrolling? Where? And then, why? Ask yourself what is driving you to spend so much time on social media. Make sure your intentions are healthy. If you are having trouble figuring out some of these patterns of behavior, talk to those who know you best and see how they would answer for you. You have to understand yourself, your habits, and your relationship with social media before you can begin to make any kind of a worthwhile plan for setting boundaries.  

Limit usage. 

Social media is not bad. In fact, I believe it’s pretty great. But there’s a time and a place for everything. Scrolling through Facebook while you’re waiting in the car for your kids to be done at basketball camp makes sense. Maybe it’s while you’re eating lunch at your desk and you need a mental break from your routine tasks. And let’s be honest, we’ve all spent time checking our feeds while on the toilet . . . am I right?! 

Of course, that means there are many times when it is probably not such a good idea to check your apps. When I’m sitting down with a friend for a one-on-one conversation over coffee or dinner, I try very hard to keep my phone in my pocket, so the other person feels valued and knows they have my full attention. There are plenty of environments like this where social media usage is not the most appropriate. I am not here to make your rules for you—but once you’ve figured out your habits, you need to create those rules for yourself to help limit your usage. 

When I'm sitting down with a friend for a one-on-one conversation over coffee or dinner, I try very hard to keep my phone in my pocket, so the other person feels valued and knows they have my full attention. Click To Tweet

Ask for some help. 

We can’t make big changes without some help. Ask the people who are around you most—close friends, immediate family, co-workers, etc.—to keep you accountable. Tell them that you are trying to set better boundaries with social media, and explain what those are. Ask them to tell you if they see you violating any of your own rules for yourself. This is so important, because we don’t often see things in ourselves that others see . . . especially when we are trying to break old habits! 

Social media is a powerful tool for connection, one that we derive a lot of enjoyment from. Love it, use it, engage with it, have fun with it—but make sure you are not doing so at the expense of people, relationships, or important experiences right in front of you. Take some time to get to know yourself better, set some rules, and ask others to help you. You can do it! 

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