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Tech Addiction or Habit? 5 Ways To Assess Your Social-Media Use

Compulsively checking feeds, never feeling satisfied and being anxious without your phone are clues that your social-media use isn’t healthy.

By Julie Jargon
Tue, Jun 14, 2022Grey Clock 5 min

We all feel like we’re addicted to our phones at times, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or chiming in on the latest Twitter scandal—even when we suspect we shouldn’t. How we address our behaviour depends on whether we truly have an addiction, or an unhealthy habit we can kick with a few adjustments.

People throw around the word addiction loosely, but few people are truly dependent on social media, according to mental-health experts. Addiction itself is a spectrum disorder that can range from mild to severe, and treatment can require therapy and a lengthy break.

Even if we’re not addicted, it’s clear that we’re all using social media a lot. A Pew Research Center study last year found that 70% of Facebook users visit the site every day, and that almost half of those daily users access it several times a day.

Here are five general signs that a bad habit might be developing into something more serious—plus tips on how to slow your scroll.

You use social media compulsively.

It’s hard to leave our phones behind when we go anywhere anymore because of the pressure to always be reachable by our bosses, our partners, our kids. When we carry our phones around with us like an extra appendage, it’s hard not to fill free moments by checking social media during an elevator ride, a trip to the bathroom or a stroll in the park.

So what constitutes compulsive use? A 2019 paper in the journal Neuropsychology Review defined compulsive behaviour as the feeling we have to do something repeatedly, even when we know we really don’t have to.

When the compulsion to scroll overrides our better judgment, causing us to do dangerous things such as checking notifications while driving or crossing the road, that’s a reason to pay attention. (On recent mornings, I’ve seen a woman pushing her baby stroller along a busy street in my neighbourhood while staring at her phone.)

Habits aren’t easy to kick because they tend to be done on autopilot, said Phil Reed, chair of the psychology department at Swansea University in Wales, who has been studying the root causes of unhealthy social-media use. “The way to treat habits is to bring them into consciousness and make yourself aware of what you’re doing,” he said.

Tips: Try logging how often you check your feeds in a day, including those brief glances during spare moments. Turn off app notifications, set a blanket Do Not Disturb, or customize Focus settings on Apple devices to automatically turn on during work hours or when you’re driving.

Next, fill the time you normally spend on social media with other activities.

“If you don’t increase other things as you reduce social media, almost any other attempt to reduce it won’t work,” said Cal Newport, an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and author of “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.”

Your social-media use is getting in the way of life.

Anna Lembke, a professor of psychiatry and addiction medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine, relies on this simple definition of addiction: “The continued compulsive use of a substance or behaviour despite harm to self and/or others.”

Scrolling through interior-design photos on Instagram before bed (um, totally speaking for a friend here) likely won’t hurt you, as long as you’re not delaying sleep too much.

If your social-media use is hurting your relationships, your work, your sleep or other aspects of your health—but you scroll anyway because you feel you can’t stop—it’s time to take action.

Tips: Dr. Lembke recommends that people who want to kick a habit do what she calls a “24-hour dopamine fast” by not touching any screen-related devices for a day.

“Prepare for the fast by letting people know you won’t be reachable,” said Dr. Lembke, who wrote “Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.” It’s also better to do the fast with friends or family, she said.

People should pay close attention to how they’re feeling during the fast, Dr. Lembke said, and note symptoms such as anxiousness, irritability and intrusive thoughts about getting back to their feeds.

“Hopefully by the end of that day, people will have experienced a lessening of those symptoms and discover that they’re actually feeling better,” she said.

For people who suspect they have a full-blown tech addiction, she recommends a 30-day screen fast. She said she realizes how daunting that sounds, but it takes about a month of abstaining from addictive behaviours and substances for the reward pathways in the brain to reset.

You need more social media to feel satisfied.

As with any type of substance or behaviour dependence, social-media overuse can lead to increased tolerance to its pleasurable effects, which requires you to seek out more to feel good, Dr. Reed said.

If you’re not sure whether you’ve been ramping up your time on social media, track your app usage over time by looking at the screen-time settings on your phone.

Tips: Dr. Lembke suggests restricting phone use to certain hours of the day and setting time limits on the apps that suck you in the most.

It can help to write down what you plan to do on your phone before you use it, as a way of keeping yourself honest, she said. “If you do want to use it in an escapist, mind-numbing way, limit the amount of time you’ll do that, and schedule it in.” (See, you can take that nightly Instagram break you need!)

You’ve convinced yourself that you have an audience you need to serve.

This doesn’t apply to influencers who make a living posting on social media—which is not to say their use can’t be problematic. It’s intended for the teens and parents alike who have told me they feel pressure to post frequently.

Tips: Dr. Newport suggests you conduct an experiment and stop posting for a while without telling anyone, and see if anyone remarks on your absence. “People often find that no one notices,” he said.

You also could share directly with one person or a small group through traditional messaging, or new photo-sharing apps popular with Gen Z.

You suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you’re not on social media.

If you experience anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression and strong cravings for social media when you’re not using it, that’s an indication of addiction.

Tips: Dr. Newport suggests using a decluttering approach to social media, much like getting rid of old clothes in your closet to make room for new ones. First, he said, delete all social-media apps from your phone. Take two weeks to a month to clear your head.

Then, slowly and intentionally, add back apps that serve a specific purpose, and develop rules around using them. For example, if Facebook was a way to communicate with your local running group, promise yourself that you will use Facebook solely for that purpose.

For people who feel they have a serious addiction, therapy may be needed to treat the underlying causes.

After you’ve followed the other tips above, schedule a recurring digital break—say one day a week—to reinforce your healthier new habits.

“If you’re not addicted to social media but struggling with overuse, my experience is that having a ‘digital sabbath’ is enough of a reminder to moderate our consumption,” Dr. Lembke said. “Even if it doesn’t make brain changes, it keeps it top of mind.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication:


Interior designer Thomas Hamel on where it goes wrong in so many homes.

Following the devastation of recent flooding, experts are urging government intervention to drive the cessation of building in areas at risk.

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30 metres of water frontage across a 1733sqm block.

By Kanebridge News
Fri, Jun 24, 2022 < 1 min

With views up the coastline to the NSW central coast comes this magnificent double oceanfront block — a rare setting for the ultimate family holiday retreat.

Boasting level lawns that spill down to 30-metre of ocean frontage, the 1733sqm plot plays host to a three-level 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom, 2-car garage home in one of Whale Beach’s most tightly held cul-de-sacs.

A contemporary masterclass in style, the home showcases free-flowing spaces with glass-wrapped interiors in a layout that accommodates family and friends.

Within the main living spaces comes a state-of-the-art kitchen with Calacatta marble and stainless-steel benchtops accompanied by a full suite of Gaggenau appliances and a separate walk-in cool room.

Other living zones found on the ground level include a games room and sun-drenched terrace with its own Miele appointed kitchen.

Outside sees a 15-metre resort style pool to soak up the sun and watery views, while the poolside studio is fully self-contained and perfect for extra weekend guests.

Accommodation is comprised of three luxurious ensuite bedrooms — of which several open directly to the terraces. The master bedroom has access to the home office, large walk-in-robe and cellar or store room.

Further luxurious additions to the home include a gym, jacuzzi, pizza oven, BBQ and Ecosmart fireplace.

The listing is with LJ Hooker Palm Beach’s David Edwards 0415 440 044 with the POA. palmbeach.ljhooker.com.au

It comes as falling volumes and declining prices reflected a weakness likely to continue in the established homes market.

By Kanebridge News
Wed, Jun 22, 2022 < 1 min

The nation’s housing sales fell by $8 billion in the three months to March when compared to the previous quarter according to data provider CoreLogic’s quarterly Pain & Gain report.

It comes as falling volumes and declining prices reflected a weakness likely to continue in the established homes market.

The fall in nominal profits from $38 billion in December echoed the decline in loss-making sales to $261 million from $355 million. Declines in housing values only kicked in after the March quarter, with the extent of loss-making sales predicted to increase.

CoreLogic’s analysis of 106,000 establish home sales in the March quarter showed the proportion of profit-making sales fell to 92.7% from the December quarter’s 94% peak figure.

The March quarter saw the first time profitable housing sales fell in a year and a half — unit profitability declining faster than houses.

The pandemic was the last cause of such a decline, in the three months to August 2020.

The major markets of Sydney and Melbourne are the cities most at risk due to higher interest rates, and therefore made the biggest contribution to loss-making sales over the quarter — the rate of unprofitable sales in both cities rising to 4.8%.

 Hobart was the city with the highest proportion of profit-making sales for the 15th straight quarter. Just 1 per cent of the Tasmanian capital’s sales made a loss in the March quarter, down from 1.6 per cent in December. 

Further the report fleshes out the different pace of growth between houses and apartments that has made units more affordable into the March quarter. Between the onset of Covid-19 in March 20202 and this year’s March quarter, combined capital city house values rose 25.8% compared to units at 10.6%.

As part of the NSW government’s budget, changes have been made to the tax.

By Kanebridge News
Tue, Jun 21, 2022 2 min

NSW first home buyers will be given the choice to pay stamp duty or an annual land tax under a major reform by the Perrottet government in a test to move away from transfer duties.

In Dominic Perrottet’s first budget as the NSW premier, he has proposed an overhaul of property and housing taxes.

Under the new $730 million property tax plan — that sits at the core of the NSW Budget — first home buyers will have the option of paying the upfront cost of stamp duty, or an annual property tax payment of $400 plus 0.3% of the land value of the property. It will be available on homes valued at less than $1.5 million.

Ahead of the budget, Mr Perrottet said the initiative is aimed at aiding first-home buyers get into the market.

“We want to lower the barriers to owning a home for first home buyers seeking a place of their own,” Mr Perrottet said. “In the past two decades, the share of first home buyers under 35 years of age has declined from 67 per cent to 61 per cent.”

The scheme put forward by the Liberal state government is the second of its kind in the country, with the ACT halfway through a 20-year transition away from stamp duty. There, once a buyer accepts the land tax option it is permanently removed from the stamp duty system.

The NSW model will differ from the ACT scheme in that homes can revert to stamp duty once they are sold to a new owner.

Legislation for the new plan will be introduced into parliament in the second half of the yar, with eligible first home buyers to apply to opt into the program from January 16 in 2023. Any home buyers who purchase in between the laws being passed and the program coming into effect will be able to have their stamp duty payments refunded.