Social media connects us with friends, family members, and other folks with common interests. A smart, non-intrusive way to stay updated on what’s happening around the world as well as around your locality. Today, it has taken an entirely different form.
There are more than a handful of social media platforms to choose from, each vying for your attention, sending you constant updates and notifications. What surprises me the most is how we have become addicted to these platforms!
A study by Pew Research Center in 2015 found that 24% of Americans can’t stop checking their feeds constantly. We are almost nearing 2020, and things are only worse. Australians have taken things to a whole new level where 13.4 million of their population is spending up to 18 hours a day on social media. I work online for a living, and even I don’t spend that much time glued to the screen.
Alright, enough with the statistics. Let’s take a look at some possible solutions that will help you control this addiction. After all, that's why you came here.
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First up in the list is App Block. After you have enabled the app and given it necessary permissions, App Blocked will find any social media app on your smartphone and offer to block them on weekdays. You can choose to Enable these ‘profiles’ and Activate them or create your unique profile with hand-picked apps.
Choose the days of the week that you want to be more productive and set your timings. You can then add/remove apps from the list and determine if you wish to block the app from launching or/and prevent it from sending you notifications every 2 seconds.
You can also duplicate profiles to create a new set of rules for a different set of apps based on your preference. There is a Strict Mode that will prevent you from changing settings during the particular app's block time.
When you unblock an app, you can view all the blocked notifications. No need to get anxious!
The app is free to download and use but comes with ads and in-app purchases to unlock unlimited profiles, remove ads, and enable unlimited app blocks and notifications.
Taking a leaf out of App Blocked, or was it the other way around, Stay Focused offers a similar set of features packed in a slightly different UI. Like App Blocked, you can create a profile by clicking on the ‘+’ icon and choose apps to add to the list.
Control your social media addiction by setting a usage time for all the apps in the said profile by time or number of launches. For example, if you set it to 3, you can only launch Facebook 3 times during the day or the time interval you have set. Finally, Activate the profile on the homepage when you want some sanity in your life.
One particular feature I like was the Usage Timeline where Stay Focused will create timeline with date and time for all the apps that you have used during the day. That way, you will know which app you were using, and for how long, at a particular time. It will help you understand the time spent.
You can create a password that also prevents uninstalling the app from the smartphone, similar to App Block.
While the UI is not that intuitive when you compare it to the previously mentioned two apps, App Off Timer does come with some useful features. You begin with choosing apps that you want to restrict either individually or in groups (profiles).
You then set an off timer which is nothing but the time that is allowed for using the social media apps. The Waiting time setting will prevent you from using the app again for the said duration. So if the wait time is 1 hour, you can’t use Snapchat again for 1 hour after the app blocks it.
For parents who want to help their children fight the resulting stress and frustration, you can record an audio message (under Settings) explaining them the new ground rules, or maybe offer them some suggestions on what they can do in their free time.
You can view app usage stats, but it is not that detailed as in AppBlock and Stay Focused apps.
Like App Block, you can add a password to prevent unauthorized access and uninstallation. The App Off Timer is free but contains ads.
Flipd is an unusual social media app that wants to help you fight social media addiction. Wait, what? You read that right. You can either create a new community or join an existing one to help you stay focused and use the app. Flipd adds a gaming element, so you will see who has saved the most time by using Flipd in the community and rank them in order.
There are two primary ways to use the app. Under Casual Lock, there are different profiles like My Day and Study with a preset timer. When you launch a profile, a timer will begin to log your session. Each session comes with breaks, so you don’t wear yourself out.
Under Full Lock, you can restrict apps by setting timers for locking your entire device. When the device is fully locked, you cannot unlock it or uninstall the app, even with a reboot. Full Lock will also disable notifications.
If you are a student and have a valid email ID, you can log in using that to create/join distraction-free study groups for classmates.
Advanced stats on app usage, ability to add custom time in sessions, and reminders unlockable with the premium plan which begins at $1.99/month.
When I installed Your Hour for the first time, the app prompted that I am dependent on my phone, but not addicted or obsessed.
The hours' figure on the right gave me new life goals. Another neat feature is the floating Clock Timer that, if allowed, will show a non-intrusive timer on any app that you are currently using. An excellent way to keep a check on social media usage in real time.
There is the familiar timeline feature that will show a breakdown of all the apps that you have used during the day, and at what times. You can also drill down to individual apps.
Your Hour, as you may have noticed is taking a different approach. Instead of forcing you to take hard measures and lock your apps, or even your phone, it gives you the freedom to make a conscious decision, giving you a choice. You see a timer on every app reminding you how long you have been going through soap cutting videos on YouTube.
Social media is not necessarily bad. If you can observe some self-restraint and use it judiciously, it can be a real life-saver at times. Use the above apps to learn self-control. Use Facebook and Instagram but sparingly. Upload snaps on Snapchat and chat on WhatsApp but don't forget to spend time talking to people in person and engage in outdoor activities.
Next up: Afraid that people on social media might spoil the ending of your favorite movie? Learn how to fight spoilers by blocking specific keywords on social media.