Healthy boundaries in using mobile phone and social media

Some surveys showed that the average usage of mobile phones for a person is around three hours each day.  People are scrolling their phones everywhere, such as bus, restaurant, clinic, or shopping malls.  It is a common practice to follow our contacts in social media accounts.  On the one hand, we would like to have the connection with these people online because we may not be able to meet them in person frequently.  On the other hand, we may not want to see something about our contacts that we do not want to see.  For instance, a colleague of my client frequently posted political commentary in social media and my client is annoyed.  However, my client did not want to unfollow this colleague because he worried about being found out and this could affect their working relationship. 

Apart from the control issue of what we are going to see in social media, it is also important for us to consider setting boundaries in our content sharing.  It may not be necessary for all people to have a clear set of bounaries, but at least we need to be aware of what we want and what we do not want to share. Especially when people have connections in social media with their work counterparts or have a professional account to connect with potential clients, it is worthwhile to consider setting some boundaries to avoid troubles and unneccessary disturbance.  For instance, one of my clients never shared anything about her family in social media.  Another instance, another contact of mine never shared pictures of herself and her family.  Setting clear boundaries and be consistent in following them are important in our usage of social media because this can prevent ourselves from losing control of our privacy.

How can we set healthy boundaries in using social media?  For those who find some contacts’ sharing annoying but are reluctant to unfollow these people, it is totally fine to mute or hide their profile without unfollowing them.  Sometimes, we may worry about not being in the loop if we mute or hide our contacts’ profile.  We feel insecure for not knowing what was going on in their lives.  However, it is important to put our psychological well-being first and make peace with being out of the loop sometimes.  In fact, we can always unmute or unhide profiles when we want to find out about particular contacts’ recent lives.  If we tend to scroll our phones frequently during the day, it is easy for us to see those unwanted feed without choice.  When we had muted or hidden someone’s profile,  we can spend our time to engage in other areas of our lives.  It may be the first step for us to cut our mobile phone usage.

For those with a professional account, it may be important to consider restricting sharing limited to ones’ professional lives.  It is more appropriate to keep ones’ private lives to ones’ private personal account.  For those who create content for thought leadership, it may be important to set boundaries on repost and credit.  Sometimes, when there are judgmental or demeaning comments, we may also consider hiding or deleting them.  It is also healthy to choose which questions or messages to reply in the messaging account.

For those who tend to use mobile phone for more than four hours each day on average, it may be healthier to try to cut down the usage to the average or below average level.  It may be wise to reduce the engagement time by limiting the number of accounts ones followed or by limiting the duration of each single usage.  It is easier to put away the mobile phone while one is working and only check the phone once in every one or two hours.  While one is using the phone, it is healthier to only check the social media in a designated time and not to press onto the social media app every time when one is picking up the phone.

Social media and mobile device provide us with convenience and pleasure.  It is totally understandable to use them every day.  Each of us have different preferences and we need to find our unique way to use them healthily with boundaries.

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