A study of dscout1 found out that most of us tap on our phones 2,617 times a day. If you’re a heavy phone user, you probably tap, swipe, or click on it 5,427 times. The study was conducted in 2016, and if it were done today, the statistics would yield a much higher number. With this knowledge, we ask ourselves, “why are we addicted to scrolling through our social media?”

The Science Behind Infinite Scrolling

It’s a fact that almost all of us have experienced the endless loop of scrolling through our social media accounts. Many researchers have different views or explanations of why we are scrolling endlessly.

Susan Weinschenk, a behavioral scientist, blamed the hormone dopamine as the culprit, noting it in her 20122 and 20183 papers. Dopamine controls an individual’s “pleasure” sensation, which creates a “seeking” behavior in a person. Weinschenk said, “With every photo you scroll through … you are feeding the loop which just makes you want more.”

GFC Global4 noted that we’re basically in a skinner box. A skinner box consists of a mouse, a lever, and a hole for the reward. The mouse learns that when it pulls the lever, it will have a reward. It’s the same thing as scrolling through social media. We keep on scrolling and scrolling until we get a good post as a reward.

Effects of Endless Scrolling

Many individuals have the same routine every day: wake up, check the phone, scroll, read, eat, scroll, watch, scroll, sleep. This kind of routine is very unhealthy for your body but most harmful to your mental health. Here are some of the effects of endless scrolling:

  • Lack of sleep – scrolling endlessly through your social media slashes the amount of sleep you’re getting. According to Fobian, Avis, and Schwebel5, sleep or sleep efficiency negatively correlates to the time spent on social media. This finding suggests that more time spent scrolling through social media affects a person’s sleeping time.
  • FOMO6 – the abbreviations stand for ‘Fear of Missing Out,’ which creates a negative feeling that other people are enjoying more. This feeling can lead to anxiety, depression, and body shaming oneself.

Ways to Stop Scrolling

Endless scrolling through has become more prevalent nowadays as the pandemic has disrupted our daily lives. In navigating our ‘new normal,’ another question pops into our minds, “how can we focus and stop our mindless scrolling?” To help people, here are some ways on how to lessen your phone time and endless scrolling:

1. Set your ‘Social Media Time’

One of the best ways to lessen your phone screen time is to set a ‘social media time’ every day. You can schedule a specific amount of time browsing your social media accounts. There are various ways to develop your ‘social media time’ and here are the basic ones:

  • Timers on your social media apps – Instagram has a feature that notifies you that you spent a certain amount of time using the app.
  • Built-in app limits on phones – iOS users can use ‘App Limits’ under the Screen Time menu to limit your usage time on some apps.
  • Download timer apps – if you don’t have a built-in app limit on your phone, you can download timer or limiting apps instead.
2. Don’t sleep with your phone

When you keep your phone near your bed, it ignites the scrolling routine. Waking up next to your phone lets you check it first thing in the morning. 

3. Delete apps

Even though it is challenging and incites FOMO (fear of missing out), deleting your social media apps is a good idea. One great way to do it is to delete the apps on weekdays or when you’re working and reinstall them on your days off.

4. Turn off notifications

It’s hard to stay away from your phone when it’s always buzzing with notifications. Turning these notifications will decrease your screen time and make you more productive.

5. Keep your phone out of sight

As most people are doing work remotely, it’s challenging to keep their phones away from themselves. The last tip is to put your phone out of sight by putting it in another room. This way, you can focus more on your work rather than scrolling through your social media apps.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, take ample time off your phone screens by deleting some apps and keeping your phone out of sight. Although technology has gifted us with many benefits, it also made us hostages by getting us hooked. Life is more than the four corners of your mobile phones. Take time to relish every moment and look at the bigger picture.

References:

1Winnick, M. (2016). Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://blog.dscout.com/mobile-touches

2Weinschenk, S. (2012). Why We’re All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201209/why-were-all-addicted-texts-twitter-and-google

3Weinschenk, S. (2018). The Dopamine Seeking-Reward Loop. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-wise/201802/the-dopamine-seeking-reward-loop

4Digital Media Literacy: Why We Can’t Stop Scrolling. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/digital-media-literacy/why-we-cant-stop-scrolling/1/

5Fobian, A. D., Avis, K., & Schwebel, D. C. (2016). Impact of Media Use on Adolescent Sleep Efficiency. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(1), 9-14. doi:10.1097/dbp.0000000000000239

6Robinson, L. (n.d.). Social Media and Mental Health. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm

7Stewart, S. (2020, June 10). Focus! How to stop mindlessly scrolling on your phone, once and for all. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/mind-body/wellbeing/how-to-stop-mindlessly-scrolling-your-socials-and-stay-focused-while-you-wfh/news-story/ac774a1a9e566c460bf9b7bdcc1cc961

8Cutruzzula, K. (n.d.). Here’s Why You Can’t Stop Scrolling on Your Phone. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/heres-why-you-cant-stop-scrolling-on-your-phone/

9Amado, F. (2019, December 03). Trying to stop the endless scrolling. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://medium.com/swlh/trying-to-stop-the-endless-scrolling-3f9a5a39074f

10Fishbein, R. (2019, August 12). How to Kick a Mindless Scrolling Habit. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://forge.medium.com/how-to-kick-a-mindless-scrolling-habit-55b330137887

114 tips to help you cut down on mindless social media scrolling. (n.d.). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://erinlindseyimages.com/blog/4-tips-to-help-you-cut-down-on-mindless-social-media-scrolling/