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How to Prevent Social Media From Stunting Your Personal Growth

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Image Credit: Twenty20.com

Over the years, social media has taken over our lives. Our society has become so addicted to social media to where we’re not only missing out on enjoying some of life’s most precious moments, but we’re also losing valuable interpersonal skills. The introverts have become more introverted, and the extroverts are becoming more recluse.

Social media has made “Netflix & Chill” the ideal date night, replacing the traditional “dinner and a movie” where you’re getting to know each other amongst others. If people were to go out, they have a constant need to document their every move on social media instead of being truly present and enjoying themselves. What’s also worse is that I see this social media dynamic being passed on to the younger generation. More and more kids are becoming hooked on social media, causing them to place their own personal value in the hands of strangers through a “like”.

Luckily, we don’t have to allow social media to ruin our lives. Despite how addicting social media is, we have complete control on how it’s used. Here’s how I prevent social media from stunting my own personal growth.

1. Limit Your Time On Social Media

Scrolling your timeline is like diving into a black hole. Once you start scrolling on Instagram, Facebook, or even Twitter, it’s hard to stop. Even for me, I struggle putting my phone down, thus getting sucked into the “social media matrix”.

What I found to be extremely helpful is limiting my time on social media. I literally allow myself a certain amount of minutes of “scroll time” before I put my phone away to focus on something else. Because my business revolves around social media, I check my phone approximately 4 times a day, for 15 minutes at a time. During those short periods, I’m responding to any comments or DMs, and engaging with other people’s posts to keep my own personal engagement high on my profile.

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

2. Find New Hobbies

There was a period of time where I was very conscious of when and why I randomly start scrolling social media. What I discovered was that I was more prone to fall into the black hole of social media when I was bored.

I’m a part of the last generation to have experienced life without the internet and social media. I recall days being spent reading, wrestling with my dad, walking or riding bikes at the local park, playing sports outside with the neighborhood kids, or building small LEGO communities (remember those?). There was never a dull moment because our days were filled with hobbies.

If you let the demands of being an adult consume you, don’t be afraid to re-introduce your old hobbies back into your life.

3. Unplug With Family & Friends

There are more and more people who are spending time on social media in the company of their family and friends. Family dinners and time spent with your friends are now being interrupted by social media. As I mentioned earlier, this is typically a sign of boredom that comes across as rude to those in your presence. By not being in the moment, you could be missing out on valuable information and vital conversations that could strengthen your personal growth and interpersonal skills.

One thing I found to be helpful when in the presence of your friends and family is to designate one spot where everyone can dump their phones so that everyone is now forced to be in the moment and enjoy the company of those around them. At family dinner, I make everyone leave their phones in their room, and when my friends get together, I make them turn their phones off and place them in a small bag that I bring. It’s imperative that we unplug. You’ll find that the time spent was much more enjoyable when you’re focused on being mentally present.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

4. Don’t Go To Bed With Your Phone

We’re all guilty of going to bed and falling asleep with our phones in our hand. There were times where I literally fell asleep looking at my phone in the air, and it dropped and popped me in the face. That was a “wake-up call”, literally, that I needed to change my ways. Not to mention, I also noticed that I was experiencing weird dreams and sometimes nightmares because of what I was consuming before I went to sleep. All of which is not good for your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Rather than charge my phone overnight using a power outlet close to the bed, I now charge my phone overnight on the other side of the room. The first few days of doing this was rough. I was so used to falling asleep scrolling social media that it was hard to fall asleep without it. Now, I lie down and meditate until I fall asleep. After a week of light meditation prior to sleep, I noticed that I woke up feeling energized and well rested. My mind wasn’t mentally fatigued like before, and my days were much more productive. As a result, I highly recommend everyone to go to bed without their phone by their side.

Conclusion

Moderation is key when it comes to social media consumption. Social media is not bad however, like anything, too much of something can have a reverse effect. Social media is a very valuable tool, one that allowed me to connect with people of all walks of life across the world and earn a living. We don’t have to let social media take over and ruin our lives. What we can do is find balance.

How do you stay balanced? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Patrice K. Cokley is a Marketing Consultant that specializes in brand development, social media marketing, and creative project management. Holding both a BS and MBA in Marketing, she is widely known for her work with Beyoncé & Solange’s dad/former manager Dr. Mathew Knowles. Her work has been seen on major media outlets such as Entertainment Tonight, The Insider, Billboard, Ebony, The Wendy Williams Show and more; and she has spoken on panels at Soho House Chicago, Social Media Week Chicago, LakeFX Chicago and others. You can find Patrice online at www.patricekcokley.com.

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