There's no doubt social media is a significant part of our daily lives.
You can hardly go out for dinner without having people upload pictures of their meals to Instagram or take a quick selfie.
Our generation is defined by a culture of likes, tweets and snaps, which can all be very distracting at times (to say the least).
So, this begs the question: Do the benefits of social media really justify the amount of time we spend on it? Here are seven reasons why you should limit the amount of time you spend on social media:
1. Social media leads you to focus on others more than yourself.
One of the main problems with social media is you are often bombarded by others' accomplishments.
Whether it's someone uploading photos from his or her graduation or tweeting about an awesome new car, social media implicitly causes us to compare ourselves to others.
It's not surprising that studies have shown individuals who spend a significant amount of time on social media report feelings of increased anxiety and low self-esteem.
The awareness for this type of problem has increased to the point where there's now even a name for it: Social Media Anxiety Disorder.
Furthermore, many people we to whom we are connected on social media aren't even what I would consider to be friends — I know the majority of my Facebook “friends” are really just old classmates I haven't spoken to in several years.
The point is, we shouldn't waste time scrutinizing what others are doing, especially if we aren't even close with them to begin with.
Instead, we should focus on pursuing our own personal goals.
2. Social media presents us with a distorted version of reality.
As I mentioned in the previous point, it's obvious the majority of what we see on social media doesn't relate to positive thoughts or happy moments.
We tend not to see the struggles or low points in the lives of others, which makes us feel more conscious of our own flaws.
As a result, many people who use social media fall into the trap of trying to make their lives seem more glamorous than they really are.
In fact, I've heard many stories from friends who claim they are depressed or unhappy, despite those beautifully filtered pictures on their Instagram feeds.
We sometimes forget the fact that what we see on social media does not truly represent someone's life; rather, it's just a glimpse at one specifically chosen moment in it.
Once again, we should be more concerned with reality instead of trying to project a certain image via social media.
3. Social media causes your happiness to be too dependent on others.
Using social media is dangerous because you can easily get trapped in the mindset of seeking validation from others.
Your happiness should primarily depend on whether or not you enjoy a certain situation and not what others think.
For example, if you go out for dinner and eat an amazing meal, you should feel happy because it tasted great and not because you got over 100 likes on your photo of it.
Unfortunately, many people who use social media too much get accustomed to receiving this kind of attention, and it becomes almost like an addiction they need to satisfy.
While it's a nice feeling to think people are paying attention to what you are doing, it is important to question how much it really matters.
Should you really care if someone you haven't talked to in several years likes your newest profile picture?
Happiness should mainly come from within, and you should only really care about sharing your experiences with those closest to you.
4. Social media doesn't allow you to interact with friends in a substantial way.
If you really consider people your friends, you should do more than post on their timelines for their birthdays and like their latest Instagram photos.
In fact, I would say I barely use social media to interact with my close friends.
The reason for this is simply because I actually spend time with them in real life or in more personal ways, like having a conversation via Skype.
What I'm trying to say is social media doesn't actually help you develop or maintain real friendships with others. Interaction via social media is usually superficial and has no real effect on whether we consider someone a friend.
I hope you would not suddenly stop talking to your friends simply because they deactivated their social media accounts.
Posting on social media is simply the icing on the cake when it comes to true friendships, but it certainly is not what sustains them.
5. Social media can distract you from the moment.
Social media often prevents us from paying attention to what is actually happening.
I'm sure we've all had that one friend who spends more time checking his or her Facebook or Instagram feed for updates than actually talking when you go out for dinner.
As a result, the whole experience becomes less enjoyable. It's easy to fall into the routine of checking social media sites whenever you have a chance, but by doing so, we tend to appreciate reality less.
If you attend a concert and are constantly tweeting about how great an artist is, aren't you actually distracting yourself from the performance?
Or, if you go hiking but constantly stop every couple of minutes to take a selfie, aren't you missing out on the natural beauty of wherever you are?
I realize these examples are exaggerated, but the bottom line is social media often detracts from the beauty of the moment. We should exercise caution when using it.
6. Social media tends to make your life too public.
Is it really important to upload those pictures from last night's party that you can barely remember taking?
Should all of your 1,000 plus Facebook friends really know (or care) about what event you are going to next week?
We tend to forget almost everything we do on social media is recorded in some way.
This can be problematic, as it could be possible for individuals we would rather not share things with (like our parents or a potential employer) to see certain areas of our lives.
Even if you restrict who can view your social media account, it's important to question whether it's necessary or even safe, to reveal so much information about your life to individuals you barely know.
7. Social media can make it harder to move forward with your life.
Social media sometimes makes it hard to let go of our pasts. It's difficult to get over your ex if you constantly see pictures of him or her with someone else or having fun without you.
Similarly, it might be difficult to buckle down and study when you notice all your friends are constantly posting pictures of themselves, enjoying the beautiful outdoor weather.
This relates back to the very first point in this article: Sometimes social media makes us less focused on our own lives and more focused on what others are doing.
In order to truly move forward, we need to limit the distractions around us.
While social media has the potential to be great, like by sharing interesting ideas or thoughts with others, most of us use it in very unproductive and unnecessary ways.
We could probably all benefit from limiting the time we spend on frivolous tasks related to social media and instead devote the time to the people and activities that matter to us.
Above all, we should remember there's a whole physical world out there. We shouldn't be afraid to put down our smart phones once in a while and explore it.