“There are apps and social media sites that make money by grabbing and keeping our attention. The longer they keep your attention, the more money they make.”

Two weeks ago we looked at how to gain control over our email. Last week we looked at how to gain control of our smart phones. This week we will look at ways to gain control of our social media.
 
There are many companies today that belong to what is called the “attention economy.” These are apps and social media sites that make money by grabbing and keeping our attention. The longer they keep your attention, the more money they make. To do this they use tried and proven psychological techniques that begin to form habits in our lives. Soon, without thinking about it, these attention grabbing companies become a part of your life and begin to demand more and more of your time.
 
Here are a few tips to help you gain control of your social media:
 
Know Your Friends:
For many of you, your social media has become full of “friends” you hardly know but you accepted their request. However, they now have the ability to grab your attention throughout the day. Do you really need to know what your long lost uncle on your mother-in-law’s side of the family had for lunch? Limit your friends on social media to people who are really your friends and family and “unfriend” or “unfollow” the rest.
 
Stop and Start:
Do not start or end your day on social media. Some of us are on social media as we go to bed and then check it immediately after waking up. When you do,  you are saying to yourself that social media is the most important thing to you each and every day. Don’t let it become that much of a priority to you.
 
Take a Sabbath:
God modeled the idea of rest and established a day for us to step away from work and other responsibilities. Do the same with your social media and tech devices. Take one day a week and disconnect from them. They will all be there when you come back so don’t worry. There are many articles and websites out there to help you develop a tech Sabbath.
 
Turn it Off:
Many of the social media apps and websites automatically send you notifications to grab your attention and pull you in. Some will send you something every day and while on your phone or computer they pop up saying “please come and look at me.” If you go to the settings for these apps, you should be able to find the option  to turn off the notifications and their constant “look at me” messages.

Social media can in many ways connects us in powerful and positive ways. That said, we need to learn how to control it or soon too much of our precious time and attention is spent looking at a screen and not looking at the important things in life.

Written by Karl Steinkamp

Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
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