Internet Social Media

How Do You Know When You’re Overdosing On Social Networks?

Aaron Couch 21-02-2013

addicted to social networksSocial networks are captivating – there’s no doubt. The minds behind building the popular social media platforms of today knew exactly what they were doing and they saw it before any of us ever did. It’s a brilliant idea really – create a medium that allows people from all over the world to connect, share and collaborate like they never have been able to before in the history of the Earth. Incredible!


But an unforeseen (or potentially foreseen, but ignored) consequence is addiction. Social networks have been so good at “helping” us, but now they’re hindering us. From what you might ask? Well, ask your friends, family, parents, even children what they think. And although it is often joked about, it isn’t a joking matter.

Diagnosing Your Condition

Just like anything, there are different levels of social media use. Some things are more severe than others. And, of course, something else that plays into it is how frequent these things occur and when they occur. Using social media isn’t bad – it is an incredible tool, but it can be easily overused. Here are some things that might indicate you are addicted and overusing social media.

NOTE: When reading through these, look at them collectively instead of individually. Also, these are not listed in importance – all of them are equally important.

Symptom #1: You Go Online For Productive Reasons, But Find Yourself On Social Networks Instead

Sometimes this happens intentionally due to temptation. However, other times it simply occurs out of habit. Do you do this? I do. All… the… time.

In fact, to address this problem, I did a Facebook Fast (which was actually a social media fast, but Facebook Fast is catchier), which meant I would refrain from using all social media and time-wasting websites for 30 days. The first day of my fast, I opened up my browser to do something productive and useful, but immediately typed in the address bar without realizing it. I abruptly closed out and refocused myself, but I was amazed at how much I really was conditioned to visiting Facebook. This is an example of unintentional use. But other times, long after the fast and still to this day I find myself intentionally going to Facebook despite the amount of work I have to do. I sometimes do this while I’m in the middle of something.


Symptom #2: You Use Your Smartphone For More Social Things Than Smart Things

The smartphone is incredible, but it also has, without a doubt, increased our social media consumption. I didn’t used to have one, as I talked about in my article about being portable without a smartphone, but since then I have gotten one through Republic Wireless and I must say – it’s an awesome tool. But they also bring about some negatives, such as allowing social media to be accessible at any time. At first, I installed the Twitter and Facebook apps (and other social apps) on my phone, but I’ve removed them for the reason that I’m already on them enough as is. Plus, they’ll still be there later when I get on my computer.

Do you find yourself constantly checking your social networks, even while you’re not on your computer? Probably. I’ve noticed just in my own personal News Feed that the activity via the Facebook mobile app has been increasing tremendously and is probably equal to the amount of activity via the Facebook page itself.

Symptom #3: A Constant Craving To Check Them, Despite Knowing There Are Zero Notifications

Have you ever done this? You scroll through the news feed, maybe like, comment on and/or retweet a few things, then you close it out. You start doing something, then five minutes later you find yourself back on again. MakeUseOf writers are in no way exempt from procrastination How This MakeUseOf Writer Procrastinates In 8 Easy Steps As you may know, MakeUseOf isn't staffed by robots that churn out articles daily through an automatic system. All of us have our own methods of getting down to the writing. Since I'm not a... Read More , and I’ve done this several times while writing up to this point in this article already.

Symptom #4: You Have More Services Connected Together Than You Can Count

One of the benefits of having social networking accounts is the benefit of easily logging into websites and services, like you do here on MakeUseOf. However, this can also be a negative thing if you begin to trust sketchy websites and applications that shouldn’t be trusted. Depending on the permissions, when you log into sites with your social accounts, they may be able to access information about you that you otherwise wouldn’t want. Of course, this gets back to your privacy settings Make Sure You're Secure With Facebook's New Privacy Settings: A Complete Guide Facebook also means two other things: frequent changes and privacy concerns. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Facebook, is that they’re not really concerned about what we like or our privacy. Nor should they... Read More , but the threat can still be there.


Symptom #5: You’re On Them First Thing Every Morning And Right Before Bed Every Night

addicted to social networks

Neither of these things are good for us. I think we’d all agree that starting your day out right is crucial to, well, having a good day. It’s so easy though to just lay in bed until noon (on a day that you don’t have to get up) and surf the Internet aimlessly, likely spending the majority of your time on social networks.

In addition, the same should be avoided before you go to sleep. This doesn’t just include social networks, but technology in general. It’s been proven that bright screens hinder sleep as your brain is being stimulated and tricked into thinking it’s still day – that’s why you don’t normally feel as tired. Also, it can easily eat up hours of needed sleep, causing you to wake up the next morning in a scramble to get to your job, class, etc. because you overslept because you didn’t get to sleep early enough because you were on… Facebook.

Symptom #6: You’re More Social Online WHILE With Friends, Than With The Friends Themselves

addicted to social networking


Whenever you hang out with your friends or family, do you often discover that you spend more time looking at your phones or laptops than at each other? Or worse, did that just make you realize that that’s what you’re doing and you’re not even conscious of it? Hopefully the second question didn’t happen to any of you, but I bet the first has, myself included. It’s sad isn’t it?

In addition, have you ever communicated via a social network with someone within seeing and/or hearing distance? Sometimes, yes, it’s funny to do. But it’s becoming more acceptable than it should be.

There’s a reason that we’ve covered the dangers of smartphones multiple times here at MakeUseOf:

Justin, also, recently shared his reasoning behind not owning one and not wanting to Why This Technology Blogger Does Not Own a Smartphone [Opinion] "Do you have a smartphone yet?" It's a question my friends ask often, and it's a reasonable one to ask. I make my entire living writing about technology, explaining how to use software and interviewing... Read More – it’s not just about money for him.


Symptom #7: You Share Everything

Sometimes I go in spurts where I just post a lot to my social accounts one day, but then go days without posting something (or very little). This applies to that as well, but more importantly, this is referring to you sharing every video you watch, every article you read, every photo you see Online Privacy: Do You Share Too Much Information? Sharing has always been a prominent part of what the Internet is and how it functions. And with social networks exploding in popularity in the past several years, sharing is probably the one aspect we... Read More , etc. This can get obnoxious and will definitely annoy people How To Drive All Your Facebook Friends & Twitter Followers Crazy Have you ever wanted to drive everyone crazy on your social networks? For a long time this has been a goal of mine that I have aspired for. It takes a lot of hard work,... Read More . Such tools, like the aptly named browser extension, Shareaholic, should be used in moderation or not at all by these types of people.

 Instead, I recommend using Buffer Schedule & Post Updates For Twitter, Facebook, & LinkedIn With BufferApp [Chrome] Buffer is a web service for scheduling tweets, LinkedIn profile and group posts, as well as Facebook updates for both profiles and pages. Buffer is great if you want to plan ahead and schedule your... Read More .

Symptom #8: You Check-In To Your House

addicted to social networking

If you do this, right now I’m looking at you with the most dull expression on my face wondering why. The other day I mentioned my annoyance of this to the barista at a great coffee shop that I go to throughout the week and she responded saying she did that. I gave her that expression.

I honestly don’t get the point. And I don’t know if you’ve considered this, but if those check-ins are public, it doesn’t take much for people to figure out where you live. Now they have your name, photo and address (or at least nearby vicinity)? Do you want to be robbed?

Seeking Out Treatment

Now on to curing this disease. Granted, you don’t have to completely quit (although it may help if you did temporarily). You just have to develop the proper discipline. That is the key here – all of these others follow in the footsteps of that. So what do you have to do?

Develop the proper discipline!

NOTE: Some of these may coincidentally match up with the symptoms above, but that doesn’t mean it was intentional. If I’m referring to a specific symptom, I’ll tell you. Again, like I said in the first “note” at the beginning of this article, look at this list collectively – they should all (or at least most) be done to ensure true curing of social network overdosing.

Treatment #1: Recognition And Determination

addicted to social networking

After establishing that you need to be disciplined, you’ve probably already recognized that you have a problem. But I’m reiterating it anyway. Next, comes determination – how long are you going to last? Well, hopefully you create the right habits so that this is permanent and you don’t fall back into the same ruts and routine. I know – it’s very easy to do.

Treatment #2: Challenge Yourself With The 30-Day “Facebook Fast”

Again, this isn’t just Facebook, but all social networks and time-wasting websites that make you wonder where your day just went. This might be difficult for some, specifically people who have jobs that rely on social media or the Internet in general. So although this is best if you completely purge all activity, if you can have the discipline to hold yourself to only doing specific things and only spending a certain amount of time on these tempting, time-sucking sites, you may still be able to pull it off. But I warn you, if you already have this weakness, you’re going to really be put to the test. Again, like most of these things, I speak from experience, both from the past and current – unfortunately.

Treatment #3: Do Something With What You Learned From The Facebook Fast

The Facebook Fast won’t do you any good, should you simply return to your old habits. This is why I mentioned discipline and determination first. If those are in place before you start your Facebook Fast, or even if you start them during the fast, you will benefit much more from this sacrifice and can go back into social media with a whole new outlook.

Treatment #4: The Phone Stack

addicted to social networking sites

This idea has been going around the Internet quite a bit, so you may have already heard of it. The idea behind this is that while you’re eating with others at the table, you don’t check your phones – at all. Instead, you stack them in the middle and should someone check their phone, they are the one who pays the whole bill.

Here are the official rules:

  1. The game starts after everyone has ordered.
  2. Everybody places their phone on the table face down.
  3. The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.
  4. The loser of the game pays for the bill.
  5. If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

There are variations and additional options for this as well as some replies to some common objections.

Treatment #5: The One-Hour Rule

addicted to social networking sites

If you have a problem with checking social networks first thing every morning and last thing every night (Symptom #5), try shutting everything down – yes, your computer, phone, everything – a whole hour before you go to bed and not checking them for an hour after you wake up.

Alright, so perhaps texting or a phone call is the exception if it’s a special someone or close friend – I’m partial to that – but other than that, try this and see if it helps. Obviously you could easily combine this one and the Facebook Fast, but then continue this after you’ve completed it.

Treatment #6: Be Aware – Limit And Time Yourself

Simply being aware of how much time you’re spending on social networks can be a help in itself, but again, if you don’t care (aka aren’t determined and disciplined), it won’t matter. Those are key! Once you’ve recognized how much time you’re spending, experiment with how much time would be reasonable to spend on these sites instead.

There are a lot of helpful web apps and browser extensions for timing such as E.ggTimer and Tomato Timer, both of which I covered in 5 Web-Based Tools For Any Browser That Every Writer Should Use. In addition, another is SnapTimer. Of course, there are many more than these three, but perhaps these will help you get started.

In addition, the article 5 Tools to Track How Much Time you Waste while Online might be of some help.

Treatment #7: Revoke Site Permissions

addicted to social networking sites

In references to having too many apps and websites connected to your social network accounts (Symptom #4), revoking site permissions can be helpful in helping you be aware of how much you’re connecting to. The service MyPermissions is an excellent tool, allowing you to easily access many of the social network privacy and security pages. Also, when combined with IFTTT Too Many Apps? How To Revoke App Permissions From Multiple Websites In 2 Minutes The online world offers many privacy concerns. We all know we should not post private things on Facebook, we mustn’t write down our e-mail address in conspicuous places, and we really should pay attention, as... Read More (If This Then That), it serves as a reminder to help you not forget to go over your social network permissions each month.

Treatment #8: Block Websites

addicted to social networks

Need some added motivation and discipline? There are tools to help prevent access – but these aren’t perfect and they shouldn’t be because then they’d be too controlling. We’ve covered many of them, including the well known Chrome extension, StayFocusd Stay Focused With StayFocusd For Google Chrome And Say Goodbye To Distractions The Internet is a vast place, with loads of information that can often be overwhelming. It would be an understatement to say that it’s the primary resource for research and getting work done. But don’t... Read More . Below are four articles that might be of some help:

Treatment #9: Follow Through

Just like I started with “discipline,” I’m ending this with “following through.” In the end, these are like the bread in a sandwich – they keep everything together. By following through, you ensure that all your efforts aren’t just for not, but that you’ll actually improve and grow from them.


Now that I’ve written this whole article, I realize something – I should follow my own advice. So you know what? I’m going to. I’m going to practice what I preach. However, I fall into the category mentioned earlier about people who use social media for their work – that’s the clincher and is what makes it so difficult to separate yourself. It’s like trying to go on a diet, but working at a cupcake shop, which just so happens to be your favorite food – doesn’t work too well. But that is where discipline, determination and following through come in. With those three things, anything can be accomplished.

Do you feel you’re overdosing on social networks? Have you tried to quit or limit yourself, even for a short period of time? How did that work for you? We’d love you to share any personal advice and experiences!

Image Credit: Overdose concept via Shutterstock, Man using laptop in bed via Shutterstock, Group of young people texting on their cell phones via Shutterstock, Home Sweet Home via Shutterstock, Clock via Shutterstock, Access Denied Stamp via Shutterstock, Determined Runner via Shutterstock

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Irene Heimer
    February 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Hi guys maybe you can add NewsAssist to your list of tools? It is a great productivity tool for bloggers that takes care of searching, editing, publishing and distributing blogtext. NewsAssist is an open source Firefox add-on that can be found here ( Thanks

    [url=]firefox add-on[/url]

  2. Anna Sitompul
    February 27, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Hm, I think I am still in normal level....not so addicted..

  3. Lu-Anne Nelson
    February 27, 2013 at 12:30 am

    I'm not addicted to Facebook. I'm addicted to Avengers Alliance. I do pretty well for someone who has never spent a cent on the game. :D

  4. Ron Lister
    February 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Nice article Aaron, I think if you made a book about your "Facebook Fast" it would be a best seller. Nice catchy title too... It just sounds like a best seller.

  5. Stephanie Staker
    February 24, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Just read this one - been involved in real life. ;) We live near a middle school and see the teens walking home with eyes glued to their phones and tapping away. My daughter, in her wisdom, won't allow her kids to have a smartphone. Her reason is that she wants them to learn social interaction, face to face. Also, I believe that the kids end up with terrible spelling and grammar. Yes, it is handy to have a smart phone but it is also easy to get caught up in the games and apps. I am guilty of that! As far as social networks, I don't get too much out of Facebook but it is easy for me to spend way too much time on Twitter. I can't stand the posts (in any of them!) that are dumb like "I just got off work" or "I am going to the movies now" - that sort of thing. Why do people post stuff like that? Good suggestions in this article for the detoxing of this addiction. First, one must admit one has a problem. :)

  6. Anonymous
    February 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Lol... check in your house. I took it off my phone as well got tired of all the notifications

  7. Matthew Arntzen
    February 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Hold on...I got to check my FB status...

  8. David O'Brien
    February 22, 2013 at 11:24 am

    My girllfriend is addicted to tumblr and I can't get her away. I am so disappointed because she is such a wonderful person. But she can't get rid of some demons from the past; demons that have cadres of mad and angry people to troll with. I want her to get away.

    Loved the article and look forward to more.

    btw i should say that we are in a long distance relationship and our time is scarce. I only want it to be together. Sad really. No need to comment on my rambling but I like that I liked the article and that I look forward to future writings of yours as well. Thanks.

  9. Heini Pulkkinen
    February 22, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I ? this post! Everyone don't even think about these kind of things when they are in internet, sadly my overdose comes at IRL..

  10. Damon Osborne
    February 22, 2013 at 2:26 am

    Do you remember CB radio? It was for useful stuff like radar traps and traffic jams but it was thick with dorks saying "I'm going to change the oil in my Cortina today. Nothing's changed.

    • dragonmouth
      February 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      If one stays on the trucker channel, the dorky stuff is at a minimum. Of course, the drivers sometimes get weird but that does not happen too often. I'll grant you that the other channels are full of self-important idiots.

  11. John Will
    February 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I haven't been on Facebook since last year, I find it boring, I'm forever alone :D

    • dragonmouth
      February 22, 2013 at 1:36 am

      Then crawl out of your mother's basement and into the sun. Don't worry, there is life outside of Facebook and Twitter. The natives are quite friendly. Who knows, you might find yourself in a relationship with an actual, live person. /GRIN/

  12. Dave
    February 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Social networks are captivating? You must be joking! I have never indulged and never will. The very idea of airing all my dirty linen in public for it to be spread all over the net in the twinkling of an eye just leaves me stone cold. I've seen samples of some of the puerile rubbish that folk seem to think passes for intelligent repartee and I can only come to the conclusion that education is not what it was. Most of it is pathetic garbage that should never have seen the light of day - probably along with its owner.

    • Cid Sinclair
      February 25, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Yet you have no problem airing your pathetic, garbage-laden rubbish opinion here. How hysterically ironic! I'm guessing that comment, along with its owner, should probably have never seen the light of day........ :)

      • Anon
        February 25, 2013 at 6:24 pm

        Well - I might have known that would bring out the troll in somebody. Do you not have an original thought in your head? Just repeating someone's words ad nauseam is hardly constructive criticism and this act just shows your level of intelligence for what it really is, which, on that basis, would appear to be pretty low. I think most people realise that there is a whole world of difference between airing a whole pile of totally stupid trivia to the world that nobody else REALLY has an interest in and posting one comment on a forum. Grow up and crawl back into the hole that you've obviously just emerged from.

        • Cid Sinclair
          March 2, 2013 at 6:50 am

          Says the garbage-spewing ignorant troll. How predictable. Thanks for reinforcing my point! Idiots like you make it far too easy.....

        • DP
          March 2, 2013 at 7:45 am

          Have you actually had ANY education at all?

        • Cid Sinclair
          March 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm

          I'd say if you had would have recognized it when you saw it. Case closed.

  13. Dwight Stegall
    February 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I'm logged into ???Facebook??? 24/7. I intend to continue this in the future and I don't care what others think about it. :)

    • Carlo Vincente
      February 26, 2013 at 1:05 am

      You´re pathetic.

  14. Fritz Goebel
    February 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I know it's ironic, but I shared this article on my Facebook news feed.

    • Ron Lister
      February 25, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      Me too.

  15. Bud
    February 21, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    This article really "HITS all the nails on the head !"

  16. a computer tech
    February 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Time for a life outside the computer people :-) It can have consequences down the road...

  17. Aleksandra Huey
    February 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Addicted, and do not look for the cure :)

  18. Kieran Colfer
    February 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    The ironic thing about this is that as you're reading an article on overdosing on social media, there's a constant banner scrolling with you on the left-hand side to share this article on your twitter, facebook, G+ accounts... :-P

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      No kidding. So go on and press all button. You know you want.

  19. dragonmouth
    February 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    According to the symptoms list I am overdosing on MUO:
    I go online for productive reasons, but I find myself on MUO a lot.
    I constantly keep checking even though I know there are no new posts.
    I do check first thing in the morning and the last thing before I go to bed.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Seconded. Should we go for MUO fast?

      • dragonmouth
        February 22, 2013 at 6:50 pm

        Maybe we should go cold turkey?!

        Naaah! I'm having too much fun. :)

  20. Mac Witty
    February 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    As the cure went harder and harder I just waited for: throw out your computer and phone

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      February 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Then scream and run outside to get it back when you realize you at least want your computer.

  21. Nevzat Akkaya
    February 21, 2013 at 7:00 am

    I admit. I'm addicted :(

  22. Eric Jay Palomar
    February 21, 2013 at 6:10 am

    we are all guilty and have experienced the symptoms. lets try the treatments.

    • dragonmouth
      February 21, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Please speak for yourself. Do not generalize.

  23. Sh
    February 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Luckily, I'm overdosing the games on facebook, not overdosing the facebook itself for a kind of social things : updating status all the time, share every nonsense things that exactly no need to share or even check-in to my own house!? My own house? I mean, that's so moron

    It's risky to locate yourself in public, I don't know if you wanna be a famous one on socnet or you just like bragging all about yourself but you may have this two possibilities that could be happened : you might be in danger or you had "JERK" automatically written like tattoo on your face