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My teen was addicted to social media (and I was too). Then we tried the Freedom App

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

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Is it one of your goals to be more productive next year? In today’s busy, distracted lifestyles, it seems harder than ever to get to the bottom of your to-do list. Even the meaning of “productivity” is elusive. Does it mean finishing everything on time, even if not everything on the list matters? Luckily, the team at Freedom knows a thing or two about what it means to be productive. The key is to increase your productivity mindfully and sustainably this year, by building a number of techniques into a daily routine.

TL/DR: Social media addiction is ruining your teen's ability to focus on the things that matter. One of the key ways to get unhooked is to increase productivity by de-incentivizing the usage of social media applications. Here's a link to start your FREE trial with Freedom and get rid of the distractions.

It’s the age of social media and no one is immune to the influence and impact that it has on our lives. With the emergence of the pandemic, and the quarantine that followed, social media became a lifeline for many to feel connected to the outside world. Unfortunately, it also became a way to feel important and desirable; not always for the right reasons. For some, it was the first time they “felt seen” and popular, which provided a sense of value. That desire, to feel valued, has driven many (kids, teens and adults alike) to alter everything about themselves in order to be accepted and gain others’ approval.

This is especially true for kids and teens who have never known life without followers, influencers, likes, shares and “going viral.” Their entire lives are lived publicly through the lens of how others will view and respond to them. Their identity is tied to how many “friends” they have and how many of those friends validate them through likes and shares. This often leads them to spend more and more time online, following and imitating others who have the “dream lives” they desire for themselves. They stop living “real life” and instead devote most of their time to their online personality, which may resemble nothing of who they actually are at home.

Why is all of this important? Because, research has shown that extreme use of technology can disrupt normal patterns of mood and socialization, especially in children and adolescents. Technology addiction is defined as: frequent and obsessive technology-related behavior, increasingly practiced despite negative consequences to the user of the technology. Technology, particularly social media addiction, can be socially devastating. A dependence on social media applications can significantly impact the developmental brain and behaviors of the user. Because children and teens are still developing, this addictive behavior can seriously disrupt their healthy learning and growth processes. As adults, this can negatively impact our ability to have healthy relationships and expectations of ourselves and others.

Additionally, there is also evidence that people who overuse technology may develop similar brain chemistry and neural patterning to those who are addicted to substances (such as drugs and alcohol). Social Media “likes”, “shares” and incentives activate the same neural pathways and transmitters involved in drug use. So many kids and teens have fallen victim to the social media trap, which has contributed to low self esteem, people pleasing, poor boundaries, increased risky behavior and sometimes suicidal thoughts and attempts. Social media addiction can lead to severe consequences that range from mild annoyance when away from the social media platform to mental health conditions such as isolation, anxiety disorders and depression. This is why observing your child’s social media use and behaviors are so important. Being able to recognize when casual engagement has shifted to full blown addiction, can help you to intervene appropriately.

As we go forward, the impact and reach of social media will only grow as our society becomes more intertwined with technology. This puts kids and teens at higher risk of struggling with how to keep a healthy perspective on it. Preventing social media addiction means creating a more harmonious balance within your loved ones’ life, so that they do not misuse or abuse technology as an escape from real world challenges, situations, identity, emotions, and socialization.

So, how can you help you and your kid(s) and even yourself, to create healthy relationships with technology? Here are a few tips to get you started:

PRO-TIP: Utilize powerful blocking applications to limit screen time and increase productivity. For example, the app Freedom locks distracting apps and websites so your kids can focus, study and learn more effectively. Get started now for free.
  1. Provide plenty of healthy self-esteem boosters, some of them offline. How kids/teens use technology matters immensely. Is your loved one using social media among other recreational activities, and are they as excited about an activity with friends as they are about "getting likes on a post/photo”? Or, are they consistently scrolling through social media applications so they don't have to face a life that they're having a difficult time with? Make sure there are healthy alternatives offline (sports, art, music, youth groups, etc.) to support positive social engagement, communication and coping skills development.

  2. Encourage prosocial identity development in the real world. Once teenagers find something they are good at and want to do, they will naturally gravitate toward it. It is easier to create an Internet mask or fake persona, but much more rewarding for adolescents to cultivate true purposes and genuine identities within their families, schools, and communities. Help them see that who they are in real life (IRL) is just as valuable and important.

  3. Balance activities & productivity with healthy stress management. Oftentimes, adolescents feel like they have too little energy to spread across too many demands. If teenagers are not guided by adults in discovering healthy ways to replenish their stores of energy, they may default by overusing easy fixes for entertainment or stress relief that promote social media addiction. Encourage positive real-world activities like journaling, reading books. exercise, sports, cooking, crafts, etc.

  4. Consider a social media vacation or total abstinence: Treatment for social media addiction starts by removing the person completely from both the Internet (non-inclusive of academic or educational/professional usage) and the surroundings that allowed a social media addiction to occur in the first place. Set time limits for social media and possibly “black out” times to allow for needed mental breaks. Taking breaks can create the separation needed to begin enjoying “real life” activities and people.

What it means to be productive

In industrial terms, productivity is a measure of production.

But we know that a quantity-over-quantity mindset isn’t always the best for the work we do. As a knowledge worker, what matters is the depth and value of your work, not the number of tasks you complete. You’re not an automaton, so don’t think or act like you are.

That’s why it’s important to define your own personal concept of productivity, and ask—and answer—the following questions each time you sit down to tackle another work-related task:

  • Is this my most important task right now?

  • Am I adding value or just being busy?

  • Am I simply letting urgency drive me?

  • At the end of today, could I look back and say that I worked on what mattered most?

Asking and answering the right questions will help you to define your own concept of productivity.

Productivity tips

Everyone operates differently. Think of the following productivity tips as ideas to experiment with, and see what works for you. Don’t treat them as a to-do list, use them more like a menu. Pick the techniques that appeal to you, try them out, and see which ones work to increase your productivity.

Stop multitasking

Your brain cannot actually do two things at once: instead, it constantly shifts between activities, reducing the quality of work, increasing stress levels, and wasting precious energy and time. Research demonstrates that monotasking (doing one thing at a time) actually helps you get more done.

Take care of the biggest tasks first

Go after the biggest, scariest task when you’re most alert. Once tackled, you will finish other assignments more quickly than if the big scary task still looming over you. And don’t forget to reward yourself with a coffee break when you’ve conquered that big project!

If it takes two minutes or less, do it now

Entrepreneur Steve Olenski claims that completing quick tasks right away actually saves time. That’s because you won’t have to keep reminding yourself to deal with it later, and you won’t actually have to go back and finish that task.

Set up your workspace well

An orderly, distraction-free workspace that has everything you need for the project at hand and nothing else is crucial for productive work. Working from home doesn’t always mean a quiet office, however. If that’s your struggle, see if these tips for setting up a productive workspace could help.

Adopt the “One-Touch Rule”

Once it becomes a habit, this rule will simplify and streamline your work and life. The idea is to touch each thing that comes across your path only once. Whether it’s an email, an invoice, or an article draft, deal with it when you can give it your full attention—not before, not after. Doing this will drastically reduce the pile of half-finished tasks on your list.

Sleep more

A car can’t run on an empty gas tank—and neither can you. If there are not 7-9 hours of rest per 24-hour period in your daily routine, you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Sleep affects your productivity, memory, and psychological health. Lack of sleep triggers your body’s “fight or flight” response, evoking high levels of stress and reducing your ability for optimal performance. If you struggle with this, maybe it’s time to add “getting more sleep” as another goal to reach.

Use focus tools

Apps and technology create tons of distractions, but they can also be tools to remove those distractions and improve time management. Relaxed yet upbeat music can gear up your mind and keep you in a focused, productive mindset. Blocking distracting websites increases your productivity when working online. Automation, organization, and calendar apps are all helpful in boosting productivity. But given the way our brain responds to exciting changes in our environment or new information (also known as distractions), it’s important to block digital distractions with apps like Freedom and use Freedom Focus Sounds to tune out distracting background noises and calm your mind.

Increase productivity with Freedom

While the personal aspect is important, there are a number of “tried and true” techniques to increase productivity that generally work well for most people. Through trial and error, you will be able to find the best approach for you. The fundamentals of productivity—mindful time management, good sleeping habits, a bullet-proof morning routine, a distraction-free workspace, and distraction blocking with apps like Freedom—may seem simple, but they’re powerful and life-changing.

Start small, pick one or two habits to change, and watch your productivity levels soar in 2023!

If you or someone you love is struggling with social media addiction, you may consider speaking with a counselor and / or utilizing the methodologies in the book, Delete Me: 7 Steps to Social Media Abstinence. Get connected to a counselor in your area and feel free to reach out to us here at using our chat.

And here's a link to start your FREE trial with Freedom and get rid of the distractions.

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