take a minute

how to stop mindless scrolling - ACT
04 Mar 2022
by Sam
social media is endless

how to stop mindless scrolling - ACT now!

Do you remember a time when you saw 'You're completely caught up for now' on Facebook and instagram? It’s been a while for many of us at techtimeout and its absence highlights the endlessness of social media. And so, we sit hour to hour, day to day scrolling through our feeds that have no natural stopping points.

the secret addictive design tools used to keep us on our smartphones

As humans we are programmed to always want more and right from the start those clever developers purposely designed apps to be addictive. Way back in 2006 the development of the ‘infinite scroll’,  which allows users to endlessly swipe down through content without clicking, paved the way for a host of features that would keep smartphone users glued to their screens.  

First, they are underpinned by powerful algorithms to gauge your interests and points of interaction to continually deliver engaging content. Then, they are boosted by addictive features such as ‘like’ buttons, notifications, alerts, explore feeds and refresh options to enhance the interaction. Quite simply, the more time and attention we give to these platforms, the more profit the companies generate.

and so, onto mindless scrolling

So, with developers intentionally creating features that trigger dopamine releases the endless source of seemingly positive social interaction effectively rewires the brain to constantly crave social media.¹ That’s all well and good when it helps us to stay in touch with friends and family or connect with new groups and interests.  However, more and more smartphone users are picking up their devices for no other reason than they have a few minutes of downtime. Over the course of a week, the minutes become hours and nothing beneficial comes from mindless scrolling - just wasted time and disconnection with the present moment.

doomscrolling - what it does and how it fuels anxiety

A more sinister form of mindless scrolling is ‘doomscrolling’ whereby we don’t even notice the amount of negative information we absorb. According to clinical psychologists, doomscrolling traps us in a "vicious cycle of negativity" that fuels our anxiety² and with a little over 1 in 10 of us now living with an anxiety disorder at any one time in the UK³ the concern is great.

how can social media be used in a healthier, more positive way?

The first step is to realise that addiction is built right into the app and to become a more conscious user of social media. Then you can begin to reclaim your time, to live a more balanced life.  None of us have to give up technology, even if that were possible, but we do have to be more careful about how we use it.

Ask   How much time do I spend on social media? How much of this time is useful or helping me achieve my goals? Detox your social media following; ask yourself if you really need to follow as many people as you do?  Recognise when you are positively using social media versus mindless scrolling.

Challenge.    Set goals to reduce your screen time. But also challenge yourself to spend time every day doing other activities - it could be meeting up with friends, going for a run - anything you like, so long as you disconnect from technology. We call them techtimeouts. Thousands of people have benefited from taking on the techtimeout10 challenge to help them set goals to reduce their screen time. Click here to start this new take on the digital detox.

Track.   Continue to monitor your time spent on social media - a Monday morning check will help you to stay focused. But, also track the time you participate in other activities and reflect on how they are helping to balance your on and offline worlds. Share your experiences with friends and family so that they can support you ( and may even be inspired to try it for themselves!)


¹ Parlia - Social media causes dopamine highs

² NPR - Your doom scrolling breeds anxiety

³ Mental Health UK - Anxiety disorder