How to Get over Social Media Addiction

A few months ago, a mom with a teenager from Princeton, NJ reached out to me for help.

“How can I tell if my son is addicted to technology? At what point do I need to seek professional help?”

And I’m sure that you’ve asked yourself this question too because…

Your daughter is on her Instagram account in between homework assignments instead of studying for the next day’s quizzes.

Your son is playing games when he has a math test tomorrow.

Your daughter is spending more time texting her friends than getting a good night’s sleep.

According to William Stixrud and Ned Johnson, the authors of The Self-Driven Child:

“Kids with inflexible, obsessive minds and sensitive dopamine systems will have a really hard time setting their own limits and particularly vulnerable to excessive use.”

The issue with technology these days is that it’s addictive and the circumstances are detrimental– not only for college admissions but for students’ well-being.

I’ve worked with countless students dealing with addiction (only because they weren’t completing homework assignments on time, procrastinating any studying that needs to be done, and showing indifference towards the college admissions process).

When parents give solid directions, students will most likely choose not to listen. They perceive any advice as nagging. The reality is, surface-level instructions rarely work for teenagers– it only makes them want to get on their phones and games even more.

So why is BREAKING THE HABIT OF GAMES/SOCIAL MEDIA important for your son or daughter?

  1. No time to complete homework assignments and study for quizzes– receiving C’s on exams? We don’t want that.
  2. No self-control and unable to prioritize what is really important.
  3. Escaping problems through game play and social media.
  4. Lying about personal life, academic life, and gradually losing connection with parents (hence, the college admissions talk is nearly impossible).

To give you some resources to combat this, here are some quick tips based on the authors of The Self-Driven Child and my own strategies!

Tip #1: Have a family meeting in which you talk about setting up technology free times or zones. Work on this TOGETHER instead of demanding rigid rules!

Tip #2: Model a healthy use of technology as a parent. If you need to check your phone for a text, e-mail, or alert, ask permission– “Is it okay if I check this?”

Tip #3: Try to have at least thirty minutes of unplugged “private time” – One of my students and parents set a private time every Sunday’s 9:00 AM to 11:00 am to play board games, play tennis, and/or go out for delicious brunch.

Tip #4: Encourage your teen to write a journal on a daily basis instead. Check-in with their thoughts and feelings instead of responding to friends’ texts and social media comments. Practice mindfulness.

Tip #5: Utilize the iPhone’s “Screen Time” feature. This one button enables you to set your own time limit for EACH app. If you can’t control it, someone else needs to do it for you. It’s a start!

How to Get Over Social Media Addiction

Tip #6: Leave your phone at home and go to a local library or nearby cafe. This is my personal tip. When I’m creating curriculum for my students, researching summer programs, or writing articles on college admissions, I leave my phone at home so that I can give my 100% at an isolated location. This really works! Productivity at its finest 🙂

I hope these 6 tips were helpful. I’m only suggesting them because I want to help students learn self-control and get excellent grades! Learning how to study well is a skill, not something we’re all born with. Remember that.