This is a surefire recipe for stress. Social media makes it easy to keep up with all your connections, but it can also put you in a state of constant anticipation, hyperaware that you should check Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram in case someone has messaged you or “liked” your activity.
The need to always be connected also impacts real-life social ties. A study published in Pediatrics found that parents who texted or used apps in front of their kids had more negative interaction with them, acting annoyed or uninterested when their children tried to engage them. Your dating life can be affected too: in one British study, participants were split into pairs and asked to talk while sitting in chairs facing each other. The couples with cell phones placed on a nearby table reported feeling less intimacy and trust than those with no phone in sight, even though the devices were never used. The phone’s mere presence was enough to distract volunteers, the authors say, and to suggest they might have better things to do.
In this case, the fewer programmes you have running on your phone, the better. If you find social apps to be a time-and energy-suck, consider deleting them from your phone and using them only when you’re eating at your computer. Or try signing out of them between uses; it only takes a few seconds to log back in, but the temporary roadblock may be enough to remind you that you’re trying to cut back, says Small. You can also adjust your email or text settings, suggests Small, so you aren’t interrupted by a stream of pings and buzzes throughout the day.