Social media has become an essential part of our society. Regardless of the advantages, everyone must be aware of its negative side effects.

Social media has become a predominant part of our lives, as we need it not only for work, but also as a source of information and a link to leisure. However, addiction to social media is a real danger, as it can lead to mental health issues such as depression, lack of concentration or self-control problems.

I don't want to sound condescending, but I know exactly what it feels like to lose precious time over social media. I used to spend hours on my phone until I couldn't control it anymore. I knew it was time to change, so I decided to cut my social media apps to the minimum. It was the best decision I could have made.

According to a 2019 survey 15% of U.S. online users aged 23 to 38 admitted to being completely addicted to social media. Moreover, 40% of U.S. online users aged 18 to 22 admitted to feeling addicted to social media.

If you're anything like I used to be, the first thing you do when you wake up is probably check your phone and end up losing yourself in irrelevant videos and posts. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and all their fellow comrades have turned into your electronic best friends.

Throughout the day, you swipe through your apps without realizing that time flies by at the speed of light. Now you've lost precious time, two to four hours have passed without you having accomplished anything.

I used to find myself in the above situation and I realized it was time to do a social media detox. This means cutting yourself off from social media, starting to get productive by pursuing your hobbies and simply enjoying everyday life without the fear of missing out.

Before you start, I want to remind you that there is nothing wrong with using social media and staying connected to loved ones, but there are certain dangers you might want to consider, as the world of social media is deceptive.

People tend to portray their so-called perfect lives on social media, even though reality often looks very different. You shouldn't feel under pressure to live up to those unrealistic standards.

I found that the most effective way for me to start a detox was to simply delete my apps. If this is too much for you, you can always keep the one you use the most for communication. It is also important to inform your family and friends about the detox, so they don't worry. Maybe they even want to join you.

I won't ask you to live social media-free for an entire year. Honestly, that would also be too much for me. However, you can start by taking small steps and try for only one week or a month. The most important thing is to organize yourself and set yourself time limits, which you can determine by checking your screen time. Bear in mind that you are in control.

Once I had freed myself from my apps, I tried to think about what I could possibly do in my newly gained free time. I started going for a walk, I stocked up my bookshelf and started drawing regularly. These are just some examples, of course you can do whatever you like. For instance, make new friends or start running outside, as it improves your health, as well as your body posture.

No matter what you do, you will do yourself a favour, as not only your stress levels, but also your mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, can be reduced or prevented by adopting a healthy relationship with social media.

Now don't feel frightened. You are not automatically addicted to social media by being online. However, be aware of possible negative side effects and remember that if you do want to change your online behaviour, you can.

Read also: Tom Weber - Social Media: An honest review