Life Advice


Health & Spirit

To combat addiction, try a social media 'fast'

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have realized lately, after years of denial, that I am addicted to my smartphone and to social media.

Sometimes it gets to the point where I can't even watch a movie without needing to be on my phone, checking every social media account as I watch the movie.

The odd thing is that even when there is nothing new and I've scrolled Instagram already, I feel like I need to go back and scroll more.

I find myself missing the time before I was glued to my phone, where I was more able to relax and enjoy my quiet days.

Any advice?

-- Addicted

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Dear Addicted: Using a smartphone will expose you to triggers that will make you want to use it more. Apps are engineered to increase the amount of time you spend glued to them. This is not about you -- this is, quite simply, the human brain on Instagram.

I periodically go on "fasts" from social media, and the easiest way to do this is to delete the app from your phone (don't worry, your account remains open).

If you don't see the app winking at you from your screen, you won't be triggered to use it. You will feel quieter, more relaxed and also more connected to your own inner and more deeply personal life. And -- guess what? It turns out that you don't really need to scroll through others' experiences, seeing pictures of their kids, cats and entrees, in order to be involved with the world.

Several current studies purport to link smartphone over-usage to unhappiness and even depression. I can only report my own experience of app-fasting, which is that I feel lighter, brighter and more available when I loosen the tether and simply let all of those distractions go.


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