SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - For many people it can be hard to break away from Pinterest, Facebook or any of the many social media websites that can entertain you and inform you at any hour of the day. Are you addicted to social media? We put some South Mississippian's to the test. WLOX News asked them to disconnect and go cold turkey for seven days.
Patrice Pickett Green, Gordon Ross and Leshaunda Randle are all self-proclaimed social media addicts. Spending seven, eight and even 10 hours a day online any and everywhere. They even admitted it sometimes interferes with family obligations, chores and work. I put them through a seven day social media detoxification. Take a look at their video diaries of the process. Let's start with Randle.
"So, I have been off of Facebook a whole day. I guess it is going quite well since I have not been on there. I feel a little bit out of touch, so there you go. Day one, it is over with and I am still alive and I still have all my sanity," said Randle.
By day five, Ross had considered giving up.
"I accidentally clicked a time or two, but I exited right back off. It is like breaking a habit like smoking or something like that," said Ross.
Singing River Health System therapist Donna Velasquez understands their feelings and points out that this social media phenomenon can be luring yet time consuming.
"I did a little bit of research on it, and I found out that 56 percent of people can get into an addiction to social media. Social media has taken up a big part of a person's life if it has gotten to a point of an addiction. If you go cold turkey, what are you going to put in that hole that you have in your life that you have created a big part of your life around? So, if you want to take out something, you have to put something else in, or otherwise it will be a failure," Velasquez said.
Counselor Wendi Wood agrees. She said often times there are extreme cases of addiction where the excessive social media use reflects deeper problems.
"It is not just Facebook, but it is also Instagram, Pinterest, that kind of thing where you can become obsessed with it," Wood said. "We start comparing ourselves to others, and we start trying to do these projects that we are not successful with, and then that hurts our self esteem and our self confidence and it just causes a lot of different problems. We do need to limit our time."
So, that brings us to the results of the no social media challenge. Randle came out a winner, staying offline for seven days. Although she struggled, instead of posting and tweeting, Randle said she used her time wisely.
"I caught up on a lot of things like my reading. I caught up on some chores like washing. I hate to wash clothes, but I did that to keep my mind occupied," Randle said.
Ross made it five out of seven days.
"It was a pain in my butt the first couple of days," Ross said.
With all that free time, Ross worked around the house and even reconnected with his wife.
"You are on one side of the couch, she is on another and you are both playing on Facebook. Now since that was gone we got to sit there and talk to each other," said Ross about how the challenge helped him and his family.
Green, known to her family as the Facebook queen, didn't even make it an hour.
"Basically, I sucked. I lasted 45 minutes or less," said Green about the challenge.
What were her feelings on losing?
"I don't feel any remorse, because I felt what I needed to say that I had to say it. Yes, and every other day," Green said.
The challenge did teach each one of them a big lesson. Limiting or disconnecting from social media is not easy, but can be done.
"I could if I wanted to now, but I would rather not," Randle said.
"I downloaded the Facebook Messenger app. That way if I get a message from Facebook, I don't have to sign on and see all the post. I can just answer the message and that will be the end of it," Ross said.
"I would never take this challenge again," said Green.
If you think you have a social media addiction, here are some tips from addiction experts to help you break the habit:
1) Acknowledge Your Addiction: This is the first step when it comes to breaking any addiction.
2) Limit Yourself: First, figure out how much time you actually spend on social media sites. Once you've done that, you can slowly cut down on the time you spend on such websites.
3) Identify Your Real Friends: If you have thousands of friends on Facebook, you are only adding to your addictive problem. So, delete any friends that you don't know and don't talk to.
4) Find a New Hobby: If you can get yourself hooked on a new hobby, it will seriously help you break the social media addiction.
5) Get Rid of Temptation: If your social media addiction has gotten beyond the boundaries of your control, delete the accounts, or postpone them until you can get your priorities straight again.
If none of these tips work, then you probably should speak with a counselor.