Media is big business these days. No matter if you're looking at your phone, your tablet, the laptop, desktop, or even the television. It seems as if our news feed is jammed with ads professionally designed to get out attention. It doesn't matter what you might or might not plan to purchase in the near future. That isn't even the main focus of these ads. Instead, focus on how media makes you feel. Do you get anxious? Do your thoughts start spinning in circles that end with fear, worry, sadness, or anger?
Studies have proven our emotions susceptible to manipulation through media. That's the entire basis for advertising campaigns! Copywriters carefully craft each syllable to tug YOU in a certain direction. Whether we're talking political ads or the latest toothbrush, pay attention to what your emotions are telling you about your screentime.
If you're experiencing negative emotions from media exposure, try these three strategies to help you cope:
Choose Your Source - Scrolling through whatever pops up on your screen is a deadly pastime. News used to be fact based. These days, most articles are designed to sway you in one direction or another. If you want raw facts, search for the information or topic you want, and choose your article from the list based upon their credentials. Remember that there is NO requirement for internet or print sources to be honest or factual. Most of what is easily available is opinion based journalism.
Put Time Limits on Your Exposure - We do this for kids all the time. Allow yourself limited time to get the news. News used to be available once in the morning, at noon, and at bedtime. Go back to that schedule. If you're thinking of tranquil times past, it might be because we didn't used to live in a world with 24/7/365 availability of global information. Find a schedule with small time increments like 15 minutes and stuck to it.
3. Say NO! to Social Media - Clients here at LAFC report almost unanimously that overexposure to social media sources such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat wreak havoc with time management and create additional anxiety and stress. When our therapy staff suggests either eliminating these apps from client phones or "hiding" them in obscure places that make them less accessible, clients report a significant decrease in daily stress.
Tale control of your media life. You are the only one who can! Empower yourself to make choices about what you look at or listen to. Check credentials on your favorite podcasts. Pay attention to who authored an article before you believe it. Understand how data is collected and displayed before you give it any credibility. Think about it. They're working hard to sway you in their direction. Stick to your path instead!