Have you ever been studying or working and all of a sudden a message just pops up or an instagram notification and you decide to spare 2 minutes to check it out but eventually end up spending 15 minutes or more, forgetting you had something doing? Been there, done that!
In our present world of social media and internet where a lot goes on online, it’s extremely difficult to focus on the task at hand. We get easily distracted by the littlest social media updates and pop up messages and most times we are so eager to check them out, and if we do not, our mind will not be at rest.
Back in 2013, the National Centre for Biotechnology Information in the United Kingdom made a worrying claim. The explosion of social media use at that time, in predominantly younger generations, had led to a study concluding that the average human attention span had dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000, to just 8 seconds in 2013.
In our present day and age where most of life’s activity depends on technology, and the average person has a gadget, a lot of us enjoy it but we should ensure we strike a balance. This will ensure that we are able to focus our minds on other aspects of our lives.
Lots of changes have been made in technology over the years. This advancements has given us access to social media on any device at any time and this give us more reasons to spend more time on our gadgets.
Often times, we assume that scrolling through our phones does not take a lot of time. It usually starts as a short break in between tasks which can literally turn into half an hour .
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that each time it is produced, gives us a feeling of euphoria (highness) and pleasantness. It is responsible for pleasure and it rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.
Research has shown that each time a text or an email is received, dopamine is released. The more texts we receive, the more dopamine released, making us feel more excited but this only lasts for a brief period of time. Lets take for instance, each time someone likes your post on social media, or you receive that text message, dopamine is released. Because this is a form of instant gratification or instant pleasure, a lot of us log onto social media because they want to experience this highness from dopamine.
A Harvard research revealed that using addictive substances such as gambling, and getting all these wonderful notifications on social media, all activate the same section of the brain which is the orbitofrontal cortex.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND MENTAL HEALTH
Researches are beginning to show some relationships between smartphone usage and increased levels of anxiety and depression, poor sleep quality, and increased risk of car injury or death.
A study found a 70% increase in self-reported depressive symptoms among the group using social media.
The number of social media users worldwide in 2019 was 3.484 billion, which has increased by 9% yearly.
It is very obvious that social media now plays a very major role in people’s lives. Although it has many positive and enjoyable benefits, it has also been linked to a lot of mental health disorders. Research found that gender is one of the major risk factors and females were much more likely to experience mental illnesses than males
WAYS TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEMS.
Observe and monitor your screen time:
Carefully observe the amount of time you spend on your laptop, TV and smartphone. you can start by deleting apps, disabling notifications, etc. In extreme cases, gradually cut down on the time you spend online to at most 35-40 minutes a day. Explore other activities or hobbies that does not involve you being on your phone all the time.
Relax your mind:
Once I’m tensed, I pick up my phone and I begin to play candy crush. I have done that a lot of times that my mind has registered it so I pick up my phone and open candy crush without my noticing. When you are tensed, try activities like meditation or breathing exercises to help you relax and increase your focus. You could also try listening to music to help you relax.
Cut down on gadget related activity before sleeping:
Try cutting down on activities that are gagdet related before you go to bed. Ensure that you avoid activities that cause you to spend time on your device before you go to bed and just immediately when you wake up. You could try reading a book or listening to relaxing music.
Learn to put in the work now to get the reward later:
Delayed gratification is an essential life skill that will enable you to stay focused on your goals. It helps you develop resistance to temptation. It helps you forgo the present pleasure for a future long-lasting reward. You can start by challenging yourself to go a few hours or a week without internet this will help you remove some distractions and be more productive. It enables you to identify short- and long-term goals, which will guarantee future success
Set limits and stick to them:
Track the amount of time you spend on social media. When you decide the changes you want to make to fix this problem, Stick to them.