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Stop ‘doom scrolling’ – how to cut down on social media

Social media is designed in a way to keep you engaged, scrolling through an infinite newsfeed for as long as possible – in order to serve you more ads. We all know that too much is unproductive and unfulfilling, and yet it’s so easy to get sucked in thanks to the quick, accessible dopamine hits offered again and again.

That inescapable feeling of being unable to stop pointless social media browsing is known as “doom scrolling.”

If you find yourself spending hours of your day perusing Facebook, Instagram or Tiktok, seeing which of your estranged peers are having babies, looking at photos of food, or simply watching one too many cat videos, then you may want to break the habit. But how?

We’ve come up with three different approaches to cutting doom scrolling out of your life so you can get back to more important things. Like, you know. Literally anything else.

1. Screen Time

Apple introduced its own way to help limit phone usage with iOS 15, so there’s no longer a need to rely on third party apps to make some basic changes. Open your Settings app and tap Screen Time – here you’ll find both daily and weekly breakdowns of your app usage, which can be really eye-opening. Check out this article for more about monitoring your usage. 

There are two features which are most useful for combating doom scrolling: Downtime and App Limits. Downtime enables you to set up a schedule for time away from the screen. During Downtime, only apps that you choose to allow and phone calls will be available. We would recommend blocking apps you use the most according to your Screen Time breakdown – or go cold turkey and block everything! 

App Limits allows you to set daily time limits for app categories, such as Social or Games, or individual apps. Limits reset every day at midnight. This can be a great option if you’re not quite ready to commit to Downtime restrictions, or just want to quit the social media binging. Setting yourself, say, 30 minutes a day to check social media can really change the way you choose to consume it. That way, you’re not missing out on anything but it’s not bleeding into the rest of your day either.

2. Delete apps

If you feel like the options within Apple’s Screen Time simply won’t be enough to curb your desire to scroll, you could go ahead and delete the apps from your device. Now, we’re not saying don’t ever check Facebook again – but if you feel the need to occasionally check a feed login via Safari instead.

Social media websites on mobile are often clunkier and less streamlined than their app counterparts, which can make the whole experience of scrolling much less enjoyable. That means you can still keep up with events and posts from friends without feeling the need to stay on the site any longer than necessary.

3. Use a third-party app

Alternatively, there are some excellent apps out there to help break screen addiction. These often aim to incentivise and gamify the experience of spending less time on your phone, which can make it easier to quit the habit. Our best recommendation would be Opal ($60/£59 yearly), which we previously reviewed. Opal offers a particularly useful feature called Deep Focus – designed to render your phone unusable for the time set. Great if you have lots to do and you really can’t trust yourself!

Ultimately, there are plenty of options nowadays to enable less doom scrolling and more productive doing. Enjoy your extra free time!