Avoiding The Temptations and Traps of Social Media


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By Dr. Jennifer Guttman, PsyD

Have you ever given any deep assessment of your behavioral patterns and how much you or a loved one is attached and influenced by social media? I read an article that was published on a while ago that revealed some very alarming statistics. As of 2018, 3.1 billion people worldwide are recognized as social media users. Internet and social media addictions continue to grow as our dependence on technology increases. It’s estimated that over 210 million people suffer from internet and social media addiction. The average user averages 2 hours a day on social media which amounts to 5 years and 4 months of his/her lifetime. Some teens can spend up to 9 hours on social media every day. A study also found that teens who spend 5 hours per day using their phones were almost twice as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than counterparts who dedicated only 1 hour on their phones. 71% of people either sleep with their mobile phone in the bed or positioned within an arm reach next to them.

Throughout my 20-plus years as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist I’ve experienced first-hand some of the adverse and negative impact that social media has had on many of my clients. They range from teenagers to adults of all ages and many don’t understand or realize how or why they are being adversely influenced by their social media behavioral habits.


Here are some guidelines and tips to self-evaluate and determine whether you or someone you love may need to reassess your relationship and dependence on social media. If you can identify the reasons why you’re so attracted to social media, you’ll feel more empowered to change and create a healthier balance between how much you allow it to influence your life.

  1. Ask yourself what appeals most to you about social media? Remember that pictures on social media are static, so don’t be tempted to turn it into a movie by adding a before and after that you’d only be guessing about.
  • Often photos on social media that look glamorous were taken for the sake of the photo and not because the actual experiences were so enjoyable and amazing. What emotions do you feel when viewing glamorous images?
  • Living experiences is much more important than trying to share them vicariously through other people. Whose experiences do you value the most, your own or the people that you chose to follow on social media?
  • Do you feel reassured that your experiences are more worthy by getting positive feedback on social media? Do you feel securing those reassurances adds value to those experiences?
  • Would you be able to leave your phone in a room in your house for several hours to give yourself a break from the inevitable and constant message and media checking?
  • Do you have the courage to announce that you’re going to take a break from social media for a day, a week or even a month on all your social media platforms?
  • Are you willing to take a break from social media to see if your mood changes or just to allow the creativity of your mind to roam freely?  Our minds can be flooded with digital media, and if we never take the time to separate ourselves, we won’t know how it truly affects us. Who knows what will occur? Sometimes great ideas are born by changing our behavioral patterns

If you’re able to be objective, transparent and honest with yourself, you’ll be able to ascertain whether you’re just flirting with social media or may have developed an addiction. If you don’t have the willpower to step away at all or even reduce the amount of time that you’re devoting to social media daily, you may want to seek some professional help.

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