If you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, it could be because you’re spending too much time on the Internet. Before you disagree, check this out: Last year the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX) found that Americans aged 18-64 spend an average of 3.2 hours per day on social networks.
Yes, social media keeps us informed and in touch – and websites like Buzzfeed have quizzes and lists and adorable baby goat videos that entertain for hours – but there’s a point when checking your profile can become a compulsive activity, and your time spent on the Internet ends up being more wasteful than it is productive.
If you’re finishing up a project and you’re constantly stopping to check Facebook or Twitter, your brain is being forced to do something called “switch tasking,” which leads to a loss of creativity and productivity. Full Sail faculty member Joe Huber calls this “our addiction to distraction,” and through his research on the subject (he’s pursuing a PhD in Media Psychology), the Digital Literacy Course Director knows that Internet addiction is a real thing. The Internet is like one big infinite dopamine loop, he says, and becoming addicted to it could lead to fatigue (and other physical issues), anxiety, depression, and more.
The solution, says Joe, is to be more mindful of how you spend your time online. Below he shares a few tips for getting your potential Internet addiction under control.
- Start a Diary. Joe suggests keeping a log of when you’re on the Internet, for how long, and how it makes you feel. “It’s important to evaluate what your mood is before you log onto a social platform and then gauge what it is afterwards,” says Joe. Keeping track of when being online is enriching and when it makes you feel depressed or angry can help you determine what you need to scale back on. In addition, make a list of all of the things you don’t have time for, then reward yourself for cutting back on social media by doing something else you’ve always wanted to do.
- Get rid of the spam. If you find yourself deleting emails from certain companies more than you’re actually reading them, unsubscribe from their mailing list. “My studies have found that email is a huge stressor,” says Joe. Any little way to help decrease stress helps.
- Take a Digital Sabbath. You might argue that it’s impossible to go a day without checking your e-mail, but Joe says you can take digital breaks in moderation. “Maybe on a Sunday when you don’t have class, limit your access to technology to only working on your homework, and don’t check any social media sites,” says Joe.
- Be Mindful. “Something I even still struggle with sometimes is feeling the need to leave a comment or join in on every conversation on social media,” says Joe. “But it’s important to be mindful. You have to remember that you’re in control of how you interact online.” Think about your social media posts as quality over quantity, says Joe, and always engage with care (you don’t have to start an argument or leave negative comments).
- Increase Concentration. “When it comes to taking a break, watching a YouTube video is not going to do much for your cognitive abilities,” says Joe. The best idea? Get up and go for a walk. It’s been proven that going outside and getting your blood flowing will help you concentrate. But if you feel like you have to stay online, try this: donothingfor2minutes.com.