How Much Time Is 'Too Much Time' On Social Media?

Over the years, our consumption of social media has drastically increased. But how can we strike a healthy balance? Hear from research and experts!

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Social media has become an intrinsic part of our lives. Every few hours, we instinctively open Facebook or Instagram on our smartphones to keep a check on what's going on in our circles, or even in the world. The FOMO (fear of missing out) is real and it almost gives us mini panic attacks, if we do not keep abreast of the latest updates. But how much is too much, when it comes to social media? 

When you scroll through social media feeds for short periods, it secretes dopamine that can spark joy and cheer. Unfortunately, we often go beyond the recommended time and end up 'doomscrolling' (excessive consumption of negative news). This can really wear you down, impacting your self-image and mental health. 

So, where do we draw the line?

Social media and mental health 

Social media usage is not bad – but it can turn dangerous, if there's no stop. According to a paper published by JAMA Psychiatry , US teenagers who engaged in social media for over three hours a day had a 60% higher risk of developing mental health issues, as compared to those who steered clear of these apps. Those who spent more than six hours a day increased their risk by 78%. 

This also highlights that anything beyond three hours is a strict no-no, because it can shatter your confidence levels and trigger anxiety. Moreover, it can push people to internalise their emotions, including depression, anxiety, or even loneliness. This could be a result of cyberbullying or even sleep deprivation, caused by endless scrolling on these apps. 

Impact on physical health

It's not just your mental health – social media also takes a toll on your physical status. Those who engage endlessly on social media are more likely to develop health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and even weight gain, reveals research. 

As per an article by a University at Buffalo researcher titled Social Media Use Tied To Poor Physical Health , those who used excessive social media were found to have higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a biological marker of chronic inflammation. This means you are more susceptible to diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular conditions. 

Recommended social media usage

According to the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology , it is recommended to use social media for 30 minutes per day for better physical and mental health. The study also suggests that it is better to distribute your time between three apps, so that you can maintain engagement and not lose out. 

Those who maintained balance reported lower levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. What's more, neither did they experience FOMO. All in all, the less time you spend on social media, the less you will face self-confidence and mental health issues. 

Here's how you can reduce social media usage

Social media addiction is real – that's exactly why it is critical to take some steps to minimise its usage, before it's too late. 

Here are a few tips that can help you detach yourself from such apps, or at most, promote healthy social media practices. 

# Turn off social media notifications

Sometimes, that little pop-up can really suck you into the web of endless scrolling on social media. That's why it's best to switch off your notifications, so that you do not get distracted easily. 

# Reduce your social media screen time

There are several tools that can help you keep a check on your social media usage. In fact, apps like Instagram have an in-built timer that reminds you to stop using the app, after you set a particular duration. Choose a limit and stick to it. 

# Cultivate a new hobby outside of social media

Try and find new activities to spend your time on – it could be anything from reading, skating, to even networking. It's always a healthier idea to learn a new skill than to waste all your time scrolling on social media. 

# Try and meet friends and family offline

More often than not, we get used to socialising with our friends and family on social media apps. Take a breather and catch them offline – you are going to enjoy it much more than you think!

The last word 

Social media is a blessing, but it could turn into a bane, if you don't restrict its usage. Maintain a balance and scroll through your feeds for a limited time. Those wedding or travel updates can wait, we say!