Today, it is hard to recall a world without social media. These days, we tend to spend much of our spare time – and not so spare time – browsing through social media. Popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow us to maintain an online presence, stay connected with people we know, access useful information, and share content at practically no cost.

However, many of us typically spend hours on social media, not really doing anything useful, and ending up in a worse mood than when we started. Here are some tips to help you manage your time wisely around social media, and try to make a good use of social media.

Set a time limit

Do you tend to lose track of time while browsing through social media? This happens to many of us due to the addicting nature of social networking platforms. In order to avoid the negative consequences of social media addiction, set yourself a time limit for its usage, such as half an hour each day, which you must never exceed.

Also, keep track of how you spend this time and make a mental note of each platform or forum you visit, for later evaluation. This will help you eliminate unnecessary browsing and motivate you to make good uses of social media.

People today browse social media on their smartphones
Most people today use their smartphones, rather than computers, for social media browsing

Ensure meaningful interaction

Who doesn’t wish to be popular on social media – and what better proof of popularity than a huge number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers? It has become normal practice to follow or add people to your friends’ list whom you don’t even know and whose activities you don’t care about. As a result, a lot of our time is spent online inspecting the activities of random people or “stalking” those who do not matter to us in the long term.

It is much more meaningful to strike up conversations with the people we share memories with, and those we’d like to know better. Also, social media should be utilized more for planning meet-ups with friends and family rather than becoming an alternative to live interactions.

Avoid conflict

It is very easy to get involved in petty arguments and quarrels on social media. It is definitely tempting to drag on a fruitless discussion, and it’s totally demeaning not to get in the last word in an online squabble! We typically end up wasting precious time and effort trying to convey our viewpoint or proving that others are wrong.

Always avoid such useless arguments – just convey your point if it seems reasonable to do so, and ignore anyone wanting to initiate a war of words. You will hardly ever be able to convince someone in the “comments” section that they’re actually wrong. Who likes to admit their mistake or lack of knowledge in the presence of thousands of friends or followers or foes? Remember, while there are genuine and well-meaning people everywhere, this is also the age of keyboard warriors and egotistic conflicts. Hence, avoid conflict over social media at all costs. 

Be productive

There is always some useful content on social media to read or view, share, and practically benefit from. Learn a new skill, increase your knowledge, stay updated on your areas of interest, and help to spread positive behavior online. Find out about the skills and traits most valued in the modern world.

Gone are the days when social media was mostly about reading. Today, video and audio content, as well as visuals, including infographics, have taken over to provide you abundant opportunities to attain personal and professional growth. Social media is also an effective means to find out about the problems people around you face and help make a difference.

Social media graffiti on a wall in Athens, Greece, reading, "All we need is more likes"
Social media graffiti on a wall in Athens, Greece

Have alternative pastimes

If browsing the social media is your only pastime, you are inevitably going to end up spending far too much time on it. Make sure there are other productive pastimes to look forward to. Sports and outdoor activities are a good alternative to smartphones and computers; even a casual walk outside does you much good compared to staring at a screen which can also cause several health hazards.

For example, excessive exposure to digital screens may not only adversely affect your eye sight but has also been found to be a possible cause of Tired All The Time (TATT) Syndrome. A research in Sweden suggests that using a smartphone an hour before bed could interfere with your sleep patterns; it thus recommends keeping “electronic gadgets out of the bedroom”.

Lastly, remember that while there are many benefits of social media if used wisely with effective time management, it may never provide you with the same satisfaction as engaging in simply “offline” activities, such as reading a good book, being close to nature, or striking up a face-to-face conversation with someone important in your life.