Social media is designed to be addictive, such that users go back over and over again and spend as much time as they can on them. According to an April 2019 Statista study, 40% of US online users between the age of 18 and 22 reported feeling addicted to social media.
Social media addiction causes a variety of problems for its victims. It causes them to struggle with work, friendship, and family, among others. These problems are exactly as you would expect for other forms of addiction and they include: mood modification, withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, conflict, and salience.
I hardly use other social media platforms apart from Twitter. However, I use it a lot. Maybe a little too much, in fact.
And when I try to fix this bad habit, I find myself failing. For example, there was a period where I used the Digital Wellbeing feature on my device to set a time limit for how I use Twitter.
The thing is, Twitter is a very information-rich platform. And every moment I scroll through can be something new learnt, which I love to do. So, I scroll and scroll and keep scrolling while looking for the next dopamine hit from learning something new.
However, there's no shortage of new things and there will never be. So, unless I accept that and simply leave the platform regardless of the "fun thing" I'm reading or looking for, I would probably never do so. And I believe this is the case for the majority of social media users.
But what if we took that decision out of users' hands?
What if, instead of waiting for them to make the decision to leave the platform, the platform does it for them?
By developing social media platforms that close. Or incorporating this feature into existing platforms.
Imagine a Twitter where users can only spend a maximum amount of three hours (or the healthy equivalent) everyday? Yes, it'll be less fun. But at the same time, it will ensure they can focus on other things and avoid addiction.
However, users can also set their own hours. And to ensure they do not break it, they can only change the time limit once a day.
I believe such measures can help combat social media addiction and ensure people can get to back to living.