I’ve been thinking about Instagram and how much I love it. A bit too much tbh. I currently laugh in the face of my 30 minute time reminder and dread to think how many minutes I’ve clocked up in total over my three months using Instagram.
This ramble (😬) falls into three sections – an introduction (that’s going on now), a look at my usage and a plan to improve things. Feel free to scroll straight to the plan which is at the end (but please don’t go yet!).
Just before I really get going…..I have talked a bit about addiction. I’m conscious that there are far more severe and serious addictions out there and I feel lucky to be talking about something so mild. I decided to share as even something so mild and so simple still impacts on your life. I can also see how the strategy I’m going to use could help parents and children in similar situations with social media and computer games. Obviously more serious addictions require professional help which can be accessed via your G.P.
Back to my introduction….. Instagram offers many positives and I would (at the moment) rather be on it, than gawping at something on the television, that doesn’t really interest me. But equally I don’t want it to be all I do in my free time. Nor do I want it to be something I feel I need to sneak off to do (😳😬) or even start the day with 🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️🤦🏻♀️.
I don’t want to leave, but I can see it could becoming one of those things which I quit for self preservation…. if I don’t regulate my usage. I feel like this would be a shame as I learn from it, laugh a lot and (which is a complete surprise to me) feel like I’ve made some new friends. It’s a different friendship from the friends you see day to day, face to face, but it’s still friendship and you still look out for people.
So I’ve been thinking about how I can regulate my usage.
My first step is telling you and telling my husband that I’m regulating my usage. I would say I am a very honest person, so I won’t want to cheat on what I have said I’m doing.
So, the second step is looking at my usage…here are my behaviours / usage…
1) Posting – this is probably the most predictable and quickest part of Instagram. Except for stories that is – constructing my own stories still baffles me!
2) The quick look – this is the most disruptive to my life and thoughts. It interrupts what I’m doing, thinking and even conversations. It causes a fog! This fog is perhaps not surprising, given that (for me) it’s so often about escaping into a land where I can zone out!
A “quick look” might be a scroll on my news feed, a check on how a post is going 🤦🏻♀️, a check on how people I follow regularly are (my favourite thing to do), a look at a few stories, a click on the suggested people to follow, my reasons are endless….
3) The BIG zone out; this can turn into a lost evening 😳. It sometimes starts as a quick look, but the minutes turn into hours, turn into an evening. Sometimes it’s premeditated. I mind the planned zone outs less.
4) Messaging. This doesn’t really feel like Instagram and isn’t something I do loads of. Messaging just feels like texting a friend (except for the random messages you get sometimes!). It isn’t a behaviour that concerns me in itself, but I have to login to Instagram to read/send messages and might then have a “quick look”….see above!
Coming next is the plan (a plan which I can see myself using with my little ones when they almost inevitably arrive at an electronic/social media crossroads…).
1) Decide on a weekly usage that I’m happy with….voila!
* Max 5 posts a week with the option of one story as well if I can fathom it out!
* 2 long Instagram plays (One 45 minute and one hour)
* 3 short Instagram “quick looks” (a 10, 15 and 20 minute session)
👉I also want to have at least 2 days completely free of Instagram.
👉I only want my Instagram time to occur between the hours of 9am and 9pm.
Basically I don’t want Instagram to be anymore consuming than my Eastenders habit of the 90’s and I’m hoping that the above (almost) reflects that.
2) Give myself some INSTA’ spending money.
Yes I’ve made some Insta’ money. 😱🤯
If I’m going to act like a child….I’m not sure we ever fully grow up, not once the children are in bed anyway, we just get better at acting it. Maybe I should just speak for myself (I’m a big kid).
The “money” is about keeping track and being mindful about what you’re doing. I’m hoping that the “money” will help me stick to my plan.
3) Remind myself that it will be hard and plan for this fact.
This step is especially important if you’re trying to support a child in regulating an addictive behaviour. Children are (quite rightly) used to following their feelings, so will need support in fighting them. They need to expect the feeling of finding it hard. They will need help identifying at what point it is stopping being fun, and starting to become damaging.*
This acknowledgment of difficult times ahead (or at the very least times when you will need to be proactive) is a good prompt for a handy list of all the other lovely things you want to do.
There is so much else that I love to do, so hopefully a list of these things will help me – reading, cooking, having a bath, talking to my husband, talking to friends, watching some television, sorting out some of the random things that I’m always looking for a moment to sort….
Tell your children that they will want to keep playing as changing what you’re doing requires effort (effort is especially hard to muster when you’re tired and/or zoned out!). Then when it’s hard and the “one more go” argument kicks in you can refer back to a calm conversation about finding it hard. And tell them that this is how finding it hard feels. Breaking habits is hard. But focus on the feeling better for it. After all, too much of anything makes you feel yucky.
*perhaps it’s interfering with school work, sleep, family life or emotions, or just making them feel grottier. A full life needs a myriad of different activities and aspects afterall.
4) Review the plan and amend accordingly….hopefully I’ll see the benefits and cut back more…maybe even finish off a couple of DIY projects…..and then post about them 😂…..wish me luck!
If you’re reading this because it resonates, good luck in making any changes to your or your loved ones’ habits and lives. If it doesn’t resonate, I’m not mad. Promise.
P.S. Nobody is going to beat an algorithm. It’s not human.