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Social Media Detox And Social Networking Hygiene Tips

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5 Min Read

Social networking portals like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to connect with people. But remember, these outlets are also the breeding grounds for identity thieves and cybercriminals, lurking in the shadows with not the noblest intentions.

Social Media Detox and How To Do It?

Social media detox refers to a deliberate elimination of social media consumption and activities for a defined period. The idea is, to be honest about the entire exercise (if you believe you need it), and then temporarily disabling or deleting all social media accounts.

You can go on a social media detox for a month (that has been the norm), a week or even a year.

Why social media detox?

If you find yourself perpetually reaching out for your phone to check on what others have been doing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Whatsapp, it could be a tell-tale sign of social media addiction. In that case, you’d do well to take a break:

You would be able to:

Get more time for yourself

No more early morning check-ins, no more keeping up late-night hunting for virtual validation – keeping off social media allows you to buy time for yourself, to sit back and introspect, and to find an equally exciting (and more fruitful) replacement to invest your energy in. Think about it this way – if social media was your source of news and information, why don’t you start reading the newspaper?

If social media was your only way to stay connected with friends, why don’t you call them, talk to them, and spend more time with the people around you?

Rid yourself of anxiety

With more time for yourself, you’d eventually not fall prey to any of the trends, feeds, or headline-making news on social media that you otherwise would’ve entertained.

Wrest control over your habits

Social media applications are designed in a way to give you that quick fix of dopamine. Every time you check-in, hoping for a new ‘Like’ or ‘Comment’, your brain is getting wired to derive pleasure only when you’re on social media. There’s instant gratification for the taking.

That’s also why you should consider a social media sabbatical. Understand that these giant corporations are not as much into keeping you connected as they are into dishing out advertisements tailored to your searches. That you have become a compulsive user, unable to spend quality time with people, may just be the intent and objective fuelling social media applications.

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How to go on a detox?

Let people know

This serves two objectives. First, it inculcates accountability. If the people you inform about your social media sabbatical see you posting or re-tweeting in a week, they will call out your bluff, which could put you in an awkward spot. Secondly, they will know that you haven’t evaporated off the earth’s surface, in case you stick to your resolution.

Delete the applications

If you are serious about going on that detox, you will have to go cold turkey. For this, you must uninstall every social media app from your phone. Otherwise, you might justify to yourself that you’d be only checking in once every week. This, besides breaking down your will to keep off social media consumption, might set a bad example – of being unable to execute a plan — for yourself.

Should you usually log in through your laptop or tablet, you might want to install an application that blocks social media sites.

Think about what you’ do while on the detox

With all that time now that you would’ve otherwise spent on social media, it can be a little overwhelming. That’s precisely why you should ideally decide beforehand what you’d want to do while on the sabbatical. Some of the more common (but immensely productive and satisfying) suggestions are:

  • Read all the books that you had put aside for a ‘better day’
  • Invest time in real, quality conversations with people who care for you
  • Develop a side gig that pays
  • Exercise regularly, because that’s the natural way to get your dopamine fix
  • Be mindful of what you eat
  • Learn a new skill, language or instrument
  • Do your work wholeheartedly
  • Travel, if you are like exploring places

However, with the basic social networking safety pointers, you can steer clear of malefactors and guard your privacy. Let’s explore:

Best Social Networking Hygiene Tips:

1. Manage privacy settings

Check your social media accounts’ settings to ensure that personal details like address and contact numbers are not in public. These security and privacy settings control who gets to see you and your posts, thereby contributing to a positive social networking experience.

Here are some platform-specific suggestions:

  • Facebook: Adjust privacy settings so that only your friends (or others you know personally and trust) get to see and comment on your posts.
  • Twitter: Unmark the ‘Discoverability’ option in the security controls to make sure nobody can search you with your email address or contact number. If you use Twitter solely for private communication, you should tick the ‘Protect your tweet’ checkbox.
  • Instagram: Make sure your account is private should you only seek to share personal images and not use the portal for business objectives.

2. Switch to two-factor authentication

Login verification ensures your privacy should your username and password be compromised.

Here is how you can do this:

  • Facebook: You can set up two-factor authentication easily. You can also modify several security settings – for instance, you can get alerts every time somebody tries to log in through a new browser or device (unrecognised logins)
  • Twitter: Simply enable your login verification
  • Instagram: Again, simply allow the two-factor authentication

3. Don’t share your whereabouts

Be discreet with personal details. Avoid sharing private information like your residence address or when you would be travelling for an extended period. If it’s personal information (and has got nothing to do with others), it is meant to remain private.

If you’ve allowed location tagging, you will be inadvertently sharing your whereabouts.

To prevent this from happening, know what you must do for:

  • Facebook and Instagram mobile applications: Head to the ‘Settings’ option in your smartphone, and disable location services.
  • Twitter: Head to ‘Privacy and safety’ settings, and uncheck the box that says ‘Tweet with location’.

(This procedure can differ across smartphones from different manufacturers)

4. Don’t accept dubious friend requests

If you get a request from your friend (or anybody you know) and you thought he/she was already in your friend-list, go back and double-check. Should you find that person already there, chances are his/her account is hacked.

Malefactors clone ‘real’ accounts to add to their friends’ tally, and then rely on these fake accounts to expand their bogus network. In fact, the account may also use images of your real contacts to trick you.

Facebook has a system to alert that friend of yours should his/her account be used to send requests. However, Instagram and Twitter have no such provision in place. If you think you are being misrepresented, reach out to your network to let them know that.

5. Don’t use existing credentials for third-party websites

Several third-party sites allow you to log in through your Twitter, Facebook, and Google accounts. However, it is prudent to not do that; instead, you should register with a different user name and password. While such shortcuts are convenient, you could be giving out a lot of details than what you need to.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Facebook: In case you have allowed access to third-party websites you can still review them by clicking on ‘Apps’ on the ‘Settings’ page.
  • Twitter and Instagram: You can disable all integration applications individually

6. Be discreet with passwords

It is recommended not to store any password on your browser. That’s because should your laptop/mobile/tablet be stolen, one could easily hack into your password and access all social media accounts and e-retail sites. For this, you simply need to uncheck the ‘Remember password’ option that pops up every time you log in to any networking or e-commerce site.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should set up a secure password, one that has a mix of numbers, alphabets, and special characters. 

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More importantly

Don’t think you will have to abstain from internet use while you are on the detox. On the contrary, you can use a slew of devices and develop digital habits that are more rewarding. For instance, you can download Kindle for reading that feels straight from an actual book, listen to audiobooks/podcasts, or start writing your own blog.

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