“Everything in moderation” is an old adage used to describe achieving a balance in behaviors from dieting to spending. It’s also true for social media consumption.

social-media-balance

“SOCIAL MEDIA is a widely used, powerful medium, so it’s important to examine its impact on individuals’ lives,” says Tanya Tran, PhD, postdoctoral fellow at Butler Hospital and research fellow at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “It can play a very positive role but can also have a negative influence, depending on how it’s used.”

Tran recently completed a study that found people who used Facebook after a breakup to contemplate the causes and consequences of their failed relationship took longer to recover. Social media can provide a convenient way for many individuals to stay connected to family and friends, which can leave them feeling happier and more fulfilled. But if your use of social media starts to take a toll on you or your child, it is time to re-evaluate how you are using it. If you find yourself spending a great deal of time on a particular site, needing to visit a website in order to feel content, or having difficulty fulfilling responsibilities due to time spent on social media, these could be signs that you need to make some adjustments.

“It really is about how a person interacts with social media and how they think about the information they view,” Tran says. “For instance, if someone uses social media primarily to connect with friends they rarely see, seek social support, or supplement their social activities, it can be very helpful. Conversely, if they use it to compare themselves to others or it begins to replace off-line social activities, it can be detrimental.”

Scientifically proven treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral activation may help people find strategies to re-engage with others in their lives.

Finding Your Balance

Kids and adults alike sometimes get too involved with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites. If it’s time for an intervention, try these strategies:

Put yourself on a social media diet – Set aside a small amount of time for online activity at specific times during the day, like over your morning cup of coffee or when you get home from work. Then put your device or computer away.

Schedule face-to-face time – Schedule a regular coffee date or monthly dinner with close friends and family—just remember to put your smartphone away when you’re out.