Social media addiction is a serious problem for those who are addicted to it or in other words most of the users. What makes this problem more serious and concerning is the lack of medical and psychological support available for this. Many of us are looking for home remedies and cures to treat such kind of addiction but unfortunately, we are not getting any solution. The 10 mins Delayed Gratification technique is a very effective technique for overcoming all types of addictions including social media addiction.
Here is a scientific solution to this problem and it is one of the most effective solutions to cure most of our addictions.
Firstly, it’s very important for us to understand the reasons why social media is addictive.
What causes Social Media addiction?
There is a detailed article written on the same topic explaining what are the different causes of social media addiction. One of the reasons for social media to be addictive is that it’s programmed in such a manner to be addictive. Another reason is that it provides us an alternative to the real world and helps us to forget our real-world problems. The brains behind social media platforms know the concept of dopamine and use it in making us addicted to it.
User Vs Addict
We also need to understand who is an addict. Not every social media user is an addict but yes most of them are!
Anyone who is using social media for a limited time and in a controlled manner is a social media user. While a person who is unable to control himself/ herself and uses social media in an un-regulated manner is an addict. A social media addict will not be able to control his/her urges to use social media. This person will be forced to use social media even when he/she has to do something important.
This is similar to other forms of addictions like alcohol addiction. Not every person who consumes alcohol is an addict. A person might occasionally consume alcohol. But if a person drinks alcohol daily and is unable to even sleep or perform other important life processes without consuming it, can be called an addict. The same goes for social media.
10 mins Delayed Gratification Technique
So what is 10 minutes Delayed gratification technique? And how will this help you overcome your addiction?
Let’s understand this using the very popular psychological experiment conducted by Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Stanford Marshmallow Experiment
The ‘Marshmallow Experiment’ was conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University in which he studied the effect of delayed gratification on small children. In this experiment, a marshmallow was kept in front of children and they were given a bell in their hands. They were told that if they can wait for 15 minutes more, not eating the Marshmallow, then they will be rewarded another marshmallow. Some of the children became impatient and rang the bell to consume the first Marshmallow, while some waited patiently for 15 minutes and got another Marshmallow.
The same children were tracked again after a certain period of time (10 years-20 years) and the result that was observed surprised many.
All those children who managed to wait for 15 minutes to get another marshmallow were found to be more successful in their academics and professional lives. Also, it was found that many of those children (then turned adults) had less- drug problems, hyperactivity/ aggressive disorders, stress, divorce rates, and many other problems. They were found to be much more successful as compared to their peers who were unable to control themselves and didn’t wait for more than 15 minutes.
What is the Delayed Gratification Technique?
Delayed Gratification is a technique in which a person postpones or resists his/her actions which are based on temptations or urge related to unimportant things. This involves sacrificing short term rewards in return for better future rewards. A simple example of this a student who sacrifices short term rewards like playing a video game in order to achieve better future rewards like getting good marks in exams.
It is a recognized psychological technique that is used in helping people undergoing different forms of addictions, anxieties, and even depression.
Implementing Delayed Gratification Technique
How can we implement this 10 mins Delayed Gratification technique to overcome social media addiction?
To apply this technique in order to curb your social media addiction you need to simply delay/ postpone the action of opening social media whenever you have an urge to use it. If you’re a social media addict, then you would be having strong urges/temptations to use social media throughout the day.
So, whenever you have an urge to use social media and your mind wants you to pick up your phone, you have to delay that action by some fixed duration of time. You can start with any duration of time like 5/10/15 minutes (10 minutes is suggested). Whenever an urge comes, set a timer or record the time on a watch and wait for 10 minutes before touching your phone.
You can do anything in those 10 minutes, like eating, walking, reading a book, dancing, or simply staring at the watch and waiting for 10 minutes. Yes, initially the urge might be very strong and it will be difficult to implement and patiently wait for 10 minutes. But doing this regularly will help you in overcoming social media addiction.
Here is an example:-
Let’s suppose you wake up in the morning and want to check the notifications of your social media apps. You might be in a habit of simply opening the apps but now you have to wait before opening anything! Make sure you set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes and wait for this time to complete. Once you have done this then you can freely use social media.
Again after breakfast you will be wanting to use social media, so just wait for 10 minutes and then open it. Repeat this task of patiently waiting 10 minutes throughout the day, whenever you have a strong desire to use it.
How does this technique help us?
You might be aware of the role of dopamine in social media addiction or in any other type of addiction. Dopamine is a chemical that gets secreted in our brain whenever we do something very pleasing, like eating sugar, smoking, or even social media addiction. This chemical is the main cause of our addiction to social media. As social media is based on the principle of- ‘instant gratification’ and ‘immediate rewards’ in the form of likes, comments, and other notifications. Dopamine gets released more often and we get addicted easily to it.
But when we use this 10 mins Delayed gratification technique, this dopamine secretion gets released after some delay. This delay in this gratification forces our minds to believe that whatever we are doing is not much important and rewarding. Our mind starts believing that social media is not very pleasing and doesn’t require our immediate attention. Hence, in this way, we can break the chain of our addiction.
Also, the second reason why this technique helps us to overcome social media addiction is the ‘10 minutes’ involved in the process. Whenever you will start the timer and wait for 10 minutes, you will not simply sit and wait, because sitting and waiting is a very difficult task to do. There is a much higher chance that you will find a new distraction in that time period. Some of the people might start reading a book or newspaper or go to cook in that period, or simply dance in that period. Most of the time when you will be doing any of these things, you will forget the fact that you were interested in opening social media. And this is a possibility that you will not open social media in the next few minutes or even hours.
Now, if you are able to distract yourself from social media for10 minutes or half an hour or an hour, you will be gaining confidence and start becoming more patient. You will learn the most important skill of controlling your mind or in other words ignoring the unimportant urges of your mind.
Benefits of 10 mins Delayed Gratification Technique:-
This technique is not only helpful in overcoming social media addiction but many other problems can be cured if you apply this technique in your lifestyle, like:-
- Social Media Addiction
- Alcohol/ Drugs/ cigarette addiction
- The problem of overeating/ eating after every small interval
- Academic/ professional success by curbing distractions
- Overcoming anger
- Increasing attention span
Note- There is not much evidence that this technique will be useful for everyone and in social media addiction. This will not help indirectly overcoming social media addiction but this will help in helping us in controlling our mind and increasing our will power.