Social Media

Just the other day we published our latest report on how social media on your mobile could be damaging your health and your bank balance. Recent evidence - compiled in our infographic - shows that intensive social networking on your smartphone can increase stress levels, interrupt your sleep patterns and cause withdrawal symptoms when you’re unable to indulge. What’s more, there’s a direct correlation between soaring mobile social media usage and driving related accidents – even fatalities.

Addictive use of social media could be costing you money too. The stats suggest that just 10 minutes of YouTube streaming and an hour of Facebook browsing a day might see your mobile bill rocket by an average of almost £600 a year!

Don’t panic though. Social media remains a beautiful and powerful phenomenon, and by applying a few simple little tricks it’s easy to keep your usage under control and avoid any adverse effects or nasty surprises. Read on to find out how…

Get strategic about your social media time:

To avoid your life being taken over by social networking it’s a good idea to plan your online time. Choose a slot during the day that suits you (perhaps your lunch hour, or first thing in the morning) and enjoy catching up with what’s going on. Try to avoid late night social sessions that might leave your mind buzzing just before you go to bed. If you stick to your plan you’ll be surprised at how easily your new routine fits into your lifestyle.

Another good tactic is to disable automatic notifications and updates. They’ll remove the temptation to dive in every two minutes, and you’ll have more new content waiting for you when you do plug in, enhancing your enjoyment of your favourite platforms.

Control your social media networks

Is everyone on your Facebook account really a friend, or have you fallen into the trap of people collecting? It’s not a competition you know! Take the time to go through your friends list and get rid of those who may have fallen in there by accident but don’t actually mean anything to you. By doing so you’ll stick to more meaningful interaction without constant meaningless interruptions. Plus, social networking algorithms will pick up on your friends’ activity and adjust your page accordingly, so you’ll quickly start to see more content that’s directly relevant to you.

Review your security settings

Think you’ve got security online all sewn up? You might want to think again. The major platforms change their privacy settings more often than you might imagine. Make it a regular part of your social routine to check and adjust your privacy settings so that you’re always operating at the level of security that you feel comfortable with.

Beware the free app

Is your free app really free? In fact it could be costing you money. Why? Because free app providers rely on advertising to generate their income. And the energy consumption involved in posting ads and tracking responses will drain your battery as well as upping your data consumption. Just 10 app updates a month can push your usage up by roughly 60MB. Plus, all the time you’ve got apps running in the background your battery is running down.

So you need to get clever about how you manage your apps. If you aren’t disciplined enough to close apps completely when you’re done, you can at least disable automatic app updates to get that data consumption under control.

Another handy tool in your armoury can be found at Onavo. They’ve got two free apps designed to help you control your usage (and these ones are worth downloading). Onavo Count helps you to monitor your app consumption by showing you how much data you’re using and – importantly – which apps are gobbling up the most. Whilst Onavo Extend will help you cut costs and preserve your battery life by actually compressing the social media data you’re using on your mobile.

So there you have it. It’s not difficult to take a few small steps that will quickly show benefits in both your lifestyle and your bank balance. Nobody’s saying you can’t be a social media junkie. But do it on your own terms.