Do You Need Social Media Boundaries?
Over the past fifteen years or so our access to information has changed drastically. Facebook launched in 2004 for college students, opening to users over 13 years old in 2006. While the first smartphone went to market in 1992, they were primarily used to send emails, text messages, take photos, listen to music, and (of course) make phone calls. We didn’t have social media in our pockets until after the launch of the iPhone in 2007, and social media apps started launching between 2008 and 2010. Today, more people are browsing the web using mobile devices than computers.
The increased presence of technology and information in our day-to-day lives has radically shifted the ways we communicate and connect with each other. Making intentional choices about technology and media are important practices of self care. Several years ago, I set certain media routines that have supported me to stay engaged without feeling overwhelmed. I’m sharing those with you today, in case they can help you.
Schedule when you’re going to browse social media, setting a timer so you don’t get lost or over-consume. This may look different for you on Facebook than it does on Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
Turn off notifications from Social Media apps on your smartphone and web browser. This prevents you from engaging with social media outside of your intended time (I do this for email too).
Fasting from social media can also be helpful. I try to take a full day away from all social media (and email) at least once per week.
For Facebook specifically, I “unfollow” people who I’m not in close relationship with so that I can check on them from time to time. We’re still “friends”, but they don’t take up real estate in my newsfeed (that’s reserved for people I actually talk with on a regular basis).
Plan for some of your social media time to be spent checking the credibility of the information being shared with you by friends. Before reacting, commenting, or sharing a post, trace the source of the information. Websites like www.snopes.com can be helpful in this process.
Unfollow news media outlets on Social Media - this allows you to view the news when you’re ready, instead of being bombarded as you scroll through your social media feeds.
Set aside a certain time to check the news, including how long you’ll be engaged with news media. An hour of reading mid-day works best for me… Starting the day with the news weighs me down. Ending the day with the news makes it harder to sleep. Longer than an hour is also overwhelming. Through your own experimentation, a different routine or media type might work for you. That’s great! This is all about trying out routines and seeing what works for you.
Bookmark the news outlets you trust, checking on them during your scheduled News time. There are apps and aggregators that do this too.
These are just a few of the digital boundaries and practices that work for me - they may be different for you. The most important thing is to notice what you feel, experimenting with the boundaries and practices that support you to be intentional. As always, please let me know if support from me would be helpful to you.