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Wasting time on social media? Tips for Doom Scrolling ADHD Brains

Do you waste time on social media? Are you wasting hours upon hours of your time aimlessly scrolling and rotating through social media apps? Does the Internet regularly push you into the eternal abyss?

You’re not alone. Social media is designed to be addictive, entertaining, provide instant feedback, and deliver a hit of dopamine in response to every click and tap.

The addictive nature of the internet world is also the reason why many people, especially those with mental health issues, get lost intentionally or accidentally to avoid uncomfortable feelings like loneliness, anxiety, and boredom. For individuals with ADHD, the lure of the internet and social media is hard to resist, thanks in large part to traits such as impulsivity, hyperfocus, and time blindness.

To avoid wasting time on your phone and/or computer, move with intention – not as a passive observer. Follow the 6 Ls below to help you find the balance and get more in-depth with screen time.

How to Limit Social Media Use: 6 Ways to Break Bad Internet Habits

1. Learn

Before going online or turning to a social media app, decide what you want to get out of that specific experience. Ask yourself: What do I want to know? Set a goal before engaging to avoid impulsive and/or passive scrolling for hours. Consider writing down your specific goal or question before calling as a visual reminder of your goal.

[Read: Hooked on Social Media? How to Break the Habit]

2. Later

Likewise, actively think of “later” when you tend to fall into the rabbit hole of an irrelevant internet search or side search on social media. If something else is trying to take your attention away from your intended target, ask yourself: Does this matter, or can he wait? Bookmark the page, save the post to Facebook or Instagram, or save the video to favorites on TikTok. Then, in a future online session, plan to review this link with the intention of learning that information.

3. Reduce the magic

Social media apps (and the Internet in general) are designed to capture and hold your attention. To escape their trap, try the following:

  • Disable notifications for most apps on your phone and computer.
  • Avoid following or subscribing to too many social media accounts and profiles to limit notifications.
  • Make sure that the pop-up blocker is enabled on your desktop computer and phone.
  • Keep browser windows small to block out distracting visual elements (such as ads) and links.

4. Border

Limiting your social/online media use is probably the hardest to implement, but the most important. (The Internet won’t put limits on you, though there are apps and software on browsers and devices designed to limit screen time or block access to certain websites.)

  • Decide how much time you will spend on the Internet. (It is best to set fixed time limits for social media/internet and follow them daily.)
  • Set a timer each time you connect to the Internet. Try setting a timer on a device other than the one in use, and physically placing the device some distance away. This way, you will have to interrupt your internet usage to turn off the alarm. If the timer idea doesn’t work for you, try creating a playlist that is timed by screen time. You will know your time is up when the music stops.
  • Regardless of time limits, keep in mind how many platforms and websites you will allow yourself to use during your time online – another way to add intent to your internet use.

[Read: My ADHD Sabotages My Social Skills Online]

5. Lump

Try to accumulate all your screen time into one time of the day. Perhaps screen time is a bonus once you have finished work or completed errands and chores. Or maybe you just allow yourself to scroll through social media while exercising on a stationary bike or walking. Either way, avoid scheduling these time blocks first or last in your day, as light from screens can interfere with your sleep and wake patterns.

6. Leave it

Take time off from the internet by unplugging it for at least a full day each month. Completely turning away from social media and screens can help you learn about other activities in your life that are beneficial and rejuvenating. Make sure to reconnect with others and yourself when you disconnect from the Internet.

Passing Death and Wasting Time on Social Media: Next Steps


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