Why too much social media can be harmful
Silvia Dutchevici, MA, LCSW, president and founder of Critical Therapy Center in New York says, "The use of social media can have both positive and negative effects. It can positively foster outreach to people outside one's immediate surroundings, and exposure to different ways of being in the world. Research shows, however, that the use of too much social media has negative effects, specifically negatively impacting intimacy in relationships and communication skills."
She notes that for new moms, using too much social media can even lead to "negative effects on their mood and a constant evaluation of oneself, causing anxiety and fear that one may not measure up to the idealized "mom" image, often portrayed by celebrities through media. Too much time spent on social media also cuts the intimacy and the actual time one spends with loved ones."
Silvia suggests setting clear boundaries for yourself about when and how often you should be using social media as well as creating lists of sites that are useful and important versus those that are not.
Zero in on successful social media
Holly Berkley, San Diego-based author of Social Media in Action, Marketing in the New Media and Low Budget Online Marketing for Small Business advises small business owners to only use the social media sites that prove useful to promoting their businesses versus trying to "be everywhere." She says, "Just because SnapChat or Instagram is the latest thing, doesn't mean it makes sense to automatically jump in. The small business owner especially needs to be careful of their time, and focus on the social networks where his/her target audience already is, and is already interacting with their brand. Sure, you can test the other social networks, but realize that it takes time to grow a following and success is rarely instant — even in the viral world of social media."
She also suggests looking at the analytics provided by the social networks you use. She adds, "This will help you zero in on posts that perform the best (as well as time of day) so that you can narrow in and maximize your social media efforts. And beyond that, be sure to set goals in Google Analytics, so you can understand where you best leads and/or sales are coming from. Understanding all this will help you be more strategic about how and when you use social media and you'll begin to see social media as an efficient marketing tool, rather than a time suck."
Create social media-free zones
Britt Reints, of InPursuitOfHappiness, suggests setting up areas in your home where access to your social media sites is denied. She suggests designating "the dinner table, bedroom and other places where face-to-face relationships are cultivated" as places where "phones and tablets are off limits." Britt adds, "The key is not to demonize or eliminate social media, but to prioritize your in-face connections and be mindful of when and how you use social [media]."
Manage your social media
Marketing consultant Brad Hines says, "Shut off those pesky notifications — the red numbers in the corner — on your phones. There is nothing you need to know from social media as it happens. For peace in life, shut those off, and instead sign in once a day or perhaps even three times a week."
He also suggests utilizing tools such as Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule social media posts, so you don't need to keep logging on or hiring a social media poster to save you time so you can focus on more important aspects of your business (and personal life).
Don't let other people's posts bring you down
You may find yourself comparing yourself/your life to the constant barrage of happy couples/families posted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram all day long. Style coach and social media director Tiffiny Dixon says, "When I initially start working with a new style client, I advise them to spend at least one weekend off all social media websites. Constantly watching what others are wearing, who's going to the gym, who bought a new car, who just got engaged... All of that in one shot as you scroll through your feed can really start to bring you down. This will jeopardize your ability to be proud of your unique qualities."
Return your focus to your family
Twilynn M. Jourdain, LPC, NCC, of Thriveworks Counseling & Life Coaching notes that while it does have its benefits, by "becoming too immersed in social media, we risk being as aware as we need to be that our families are emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy. We become less in tune with our family systems so we lose what we need to ensure that our family unit is cohesive and strong."
She continues, "Because in many cases social media becomes addictive with adults, children and/adolescents, it can be the source of the development of maladaptive behaviors, such as social isolation, becoming non-communicative in our family systems and disengaging with those we care about most. As a mother, this clearly is not our goal."
Twilynn offers the following fun suggestions for reconnecting with your family outside of social media:
Increase the physical activities you do as a family — enjoy nature more and talk about what you love most about it.
Brainstorm activities as a family, getting feedback from everyone, and develop a weekly or monthly schedule incorporating everyone's feedback. Doing this validates all members and invites opportunities to communicate and engage with enthusiasm and anticipation.
Have spa days, and this includes everyone, to focus on not just your physical health but emotional and spiritual well-being. A little pampering goes a long way!
Cook together creating your own recipes. This not only stimulates the mind but the palate as well! Decide when and how often you will share a meal together.
Have a weekly family meeting to stay connected, discuss accomplishments, and address potential issues that would impede your family from being at its best.