Wasting Time on Social Media? Tips for Doom Scrolling ADHD Brains

Are you wasting time on social media? Do you lose hours upon hours of your time aimlessly doom scrolling and rotating through social media apps? Does the Internet regularly suck you in to a timeless abyss?

You are not alone. Social media is designed to addict, entertain, provide immediate feedback, and deliver dopamine hits in response to every tap and click.

The online world’s addictive nature is also why so many people, especially those who struggle with mental health issues, purposely or accidentally get lost in it to avoid uncomfortable feelings like loneliness, anxiety, and boredom. For individuals with ADHD, the lure of the Internet and social media are especially difficult to resist, thanks in large part to traits like impulsivity, hyperfocus, and time blindness.

To avoid wasting time on your phone and/or computer, move with intention – not as a passive observer. Follow the 6 Ls below to help you find balance and become more deliberate with your screen time.

How to Limit Social Media Use: 6 Ways to Break Bad Internet Habits

1. Learn

Before going online or turning to a social media app, define what you want to get from that particular experience. Ask yourself: What do I want to learn? Determine a goal before you engage to avoid impulsive and/or passive scrolling for hours. Consider writing down your specific goal or question before you connect as a visual reminder of your purpose.

[Read: Hooked on Social Media? How to Break the Habit]

2. Later

Similarly, actively think “later” when tempted to fall into the rabbit hole of an unrelated Internet search or social media side quest. If something else tries to draw your attention away from your intended goal, ask yourself: Is this important, or can it wait? Bookmark the page, save the post on Facebook or Instagram, or save the video to your Favorites on TikTok. Then, in a future online session, plan to review that link with the intention of learning that information.

3. Lessen the Lures

Social media apps (and the Internet at large) are designed to attract and retain your attention. To escape their trap, try the following:

  • Disable notifications for most apps on your phone and computer.
  • Avoid following or subscribing to too many social media accounts and profiles to limit notifications.
  • Make sure to enable a pop-up blocker on your desktop computer and phone.
  • Keep your browser windows small to cut off distracting visuals (like ads) and links.

4. Limits

Limiting your online/social media use is probably the toughest of the Ls to implement, but it’s the most crucial. (The Internet won’t set limits for you, though there are apps and programs on browsers and devices designed to limit screen time or block access to certain websites.)

  • Decide how much time you’ll spend online. (It’s best to set and follow consistent social media/Internet time limits daily.)
  • Set a timer every time you go online. Try to set a timer on a device other than the one in use, and physically place the device a distance away. That way, you’ll have to interrupt your Internet use to turn off the alarm. If the idea of a timer doesn’t work for you, try creating a playlist timed to your allotted screen time use. You’ll know your time has come to an end when the music stops.
  • Apart from time limits, consider how many platforms and websites you will allow yourself to use during your time online – another way to add intention to your Internet use.

[Read: My ADHD Sabotages My Social Skills Online]

5. Lump

Try to lump all your screen time use into one time of day. Perhaps screen time could be a reward once you’ve wrapped up work or have completed tasks and chores. Or maybe you’ll only allow yourself to scroll through social media while you are exercising on a stationary bike or walking. Either way, avoid scheduling these time blocks first or last in your day, as the light from screens could interfere with your sleep-wake patterns.

6. Leave It

Take a vacation from the Internet by unplugging for at least a full day each month. Fully stepping away from social media and screens can help you recognize other activities in your life that are beneficial and rejuvenating. Make sure to reconnect with others and with yourself when you disconnect from the Internet.

Doom Scrolling and Wasting Time on Social Media: Next Steps

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