How to Develop Healthy Social Media Boundaries
Last updated: November 2020
Sometimes social media and the internet can be really great – what a wealth of resources and connections! But sometimes, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds of the infinite feed. If you’ve thought about deleting your Facebook, quitting Instagram, or just can’t take the haters anymore, check out my latest post where I cover each of these social media boundaries in-depth.
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Social Media and Boundaries
Often, I fall victim of the never ending feeds available on my social media accounts.
It’s so easy to just keep scrolling and taking in more input from my “friends” or people I follow online.
It’s mindless. Numbing. Something to cure the boredom. I know I’m not the only one who sits on the couch after a long day and picks up her phone.
But does this really help us? Does scrolling endlessly, maybe liking a few posts or making an obligatory comment help me to pursue my goals?
No, I don’t think so.
Part of being intentional about your health and wellness (which is what we’re all about here at Growing Into Eternity) is making purposeful choices, even in the “small” things. Because we all know the “small” things aren’t really all that small.
If you use social media without intentions, it won’t serve you. You must set social media boundaries to protect yourself.
Maybe you spend 15 minutes in the morning scrolling on Facebook. Then another 15 minutes on Instagram during your lunch. Maybe you post later in the evening, but then you’re on high alert to see if anyone engaged with your post.
That’s at least 45 minutes per day! Over 5 hours per week! And I KNOW we spend more than just 15 minutes at a time sometimes.
Think about what you could do with all that extra time! And time isn’t the only thing we lose when we scroll on our social media accounts. Often, we lose happiness, opportunities to spend with our families, or even a sense of peace due to all the animosity that’s online in today’s society.
That’s why we must set boundaries with ourselves and social media. Because if it isn’t building up our wellness, it’s tearing it down. We must be intentional to grow.
Let’s consider a few things to set our social media boundaries.
What Exactly is a Boundary?
Now, I’m not saying we need to get rid of all our accounts and never go online again. That would be a pretty rigid and strict boundary to set – especially in today’s world!
What I am saying is that we need to set tangible limits determining how, and when we use social media. That way, we can use it for our benefit, rather than allowing it to be our detriment.
If the term boundary is a new one for you, think about the boundaries of a country.
Each country has its invisible outside lines that tell the other countries where they can and can’t go – their boundaries. Just like countries, people must set boundaries to protect themselves. Most of these times we set boundaries with others, but sometimes, we need to set them with ourselves to hold ourselves accountable and take responsibility for our own actions.
Start with a Social Media Detox
I know I just told you that you don’t have to get rid of all of your social media accounts, BUT a social media detox for a specific time period can be a good way of jumpstarting your new boundaries.
With a social media detox, you would intentionally choose not to go on any social media accounts for a few days, weeks, or a month.
When you do a social media detox successfully, you’re able to accurately assess how social media is serving you.
Maybe you find out that you miss seeing updates from your grandma or your new baby niece, but you don’t miss seeing the latest political post. Those bits of information are SO valuable.
By choosing not to go on social media so that you can pay attention to how it’s absence has helped you, and how it’s presence has helped you, you can better determine where your social media boundaries need to be.
Everyone’s social media boundaries will be different.
For me, I’ve found that the groups function on Facebook has been very helpful for me lately, and has actually provided valuable information that I would not want to give up indefinitely. However, I’ve also noticed that I spend WAY too much time endlessly scrolling on my feed after checking the latest updates in the groups I am a part of.
Taking time away from social media can be a good way to find out more about your own habits and tendencies. You might find that this social media detox is just what you need to start.
Questions to Consider When Developing Your Social Media Boundaries
After you’ve finished your social media detox and you have your invaluable information about your habits, use these questions to further develop your social media boundaries and decide where your limits are.
How do you use social media?
Consider how you use social media. In other words, what purpose does social media provide you?
As I mentioned earlier, I think that the groups I am a part of on Facebook are valuable and I’ve learned much about my interests and hobbies from joining them. Also, I find that Pinterest is great for learning about more natural health practices.
Given that information, I know that my social media accounts CAN be helpful.
But I find that sometimes it’s not helpful to me. Like when I sit on the couch and want to vegetate so I go through the apps on my phone searching for something to keep my brain occupied.
What a mindless and numbing task.
By noticing the way you use social media, you can set boundaries and limits for your own health.
When I notice that I’ve started scrolling, I leave my account.
In what ways do you use your social media accounts that help you? Set social media boundaries and tell yourself “no” when you recognize ways that it’s not serving you.
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How do you feel when scrolling?
Another thing to consider when you are using social media is how you are feeling while you are looking at other people’s posts and content.
Different emotions can arise while reading or seeing different topics.
For example, many professionals include “trigger warnings” at the tops of their posts to alert readers of potentially emotionally caustic topics.
However, your friends are unlikely to do this on their personal accounts. So, if you want to get married but everyone around you is posting engagement pictures, it can be frustrating, disappointing, and even cause anger or jealousy to arise.
Pay attention to these emotions so you can better set limits and boundaries to protect yourself and your mental health!
Maybe you need to unfriend or unfollow a few people to keep your mood up.
What times do you use social media?
The time of day that you use Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest actually matters as well.
If you consider your purpose, and your emotions, while considering the time your use social media, you might find that you need to stop using it at certain times during the day.
For example, many researchers have discussed that using social media when waking up can be detrimental to your emotional health.
If you’re scrolling mindlessly and feeling jealous when just waking up in the morning, you’re not getting a very good start to your day.
Maybe different times of the day are more detrimental for you – lunch, before dinner, or before bed. Set appropriate social media boundaries by choosing specific times you use each app.
What value does social media provide?
Finally, consider what value social media actually provides you.
We’ve skirted around this topic throughout this post, but social media can provide value in your life. Or, it can be a negative activity.
The key aspect is that YOU get to decide what value it brings to your own personal life.
Because whatever you value, you will devote your time to. So if you spend hours on one task, and only minutes on another, you’ve communicated that you value the first activity and not the second.
Setting social media boundaries helps you to prioritize the activities that you spend your daily time on.
Setting social media boundaries is a worth while thing, as it can be tempting to slip into habits that won’t serve you. A social media detox can help you better answer these questions to further understand your social media habits, and set valuable limits for yourself.
What social media boundaries are you going to set for yourself? How do you plan to get started in increasing awareness of your social media habits?
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Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, I am not YOUR mental health professional. The information provided on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and using this website does not establish a counselor-client relationship, or constitute provision of mental health services. I am not responsible for any damages resulting from your use of the content on this site, as the information provided does not substitute for collaboration with a health professional. Please consult with your health professional before making changes to your health regimen.