The 'speed bump' hack is for everyone who automatically opens social media

It’s like your hand has a mind of its own. One minute, your alarm is going off, the next, you’ve opened Instagram or TikTok on your phone in a half-asleep haze.

Finding your fingers automatically opening apps you have a love-hate relationship with is extremely common in our social media-obsessed world. And, if you’re starting to think extended periods online are impacting your mental health, it’s time to break the habit.

But how can you, when the movement is so subconscious?

Georgie Barrett, tech journalist and host of Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, says the easiest way to reset this muscle memory is to create ‘speed bumps’ on your phone.

‘You need to create speed bumps, I call them, for the way that you automatically flip open certain apps, or scroll on the news or scroll on your social media feeds, when you don’t actually want to do it,’ she says on this week’s episode of Mentally Yours,’s mental health podcast.

‘You want to be doing it [scrolling] in a concentrated period of time, instead of throughout the day, as soon as you get bored, or as soon as you approach a task.’

The way you create speed bumps, she explains, is by very simply rearranging your home screen.

‘Hide apps in certain folders and things like that,’ she says. ‘So when your finger is on autopilot, it doesn’t just return to it straight away.’

Georgie admits she’s not always had a positive relationship with tech and explains how the AI algorithms are designed to actually feed you content that’s potentially the least helpful to your mental health.

The algorithms ‘are based on your habits, based on what you consume, and they sort of try and predict that and give you that before you go searching for it,’ she explains.

‘But the problem with that is that you end up with this echo chamber of probably the content that isn’t always the most nutritious for your mental health […] because of the algorithms thinking that you like that because you’re lingering on it, or you’re commenting, or whatever it may be.’

She gives the example of seeing pregnancy-related content when she was trying to conceive. She probably spent more time lingering on it, but it doesn’t mean it was helpful to her at that point in time.

‘The people who are posting have no realisation that it’s triggering you in some way and I think that’s where it gets very confusing, because you are reading this lovely post about mums being mums or being pregnant, and it really comes from a good place. And you think, “Well, of course, I’m not going to unfollow this person,”‘ she says.

‘[But] I just had to unfollow it, I had to take time out from it.’

Today, she uses the ‘speed bump’ hack, turns off notifications and resists the urge to look at her phone in restaurants if her husband has gone to the loo.

It’s a work in progress, she says, but it is possible to utilise tech for better mental health and connection – instead of passively consuming it to your detriment.

Want more tips? Listen to Georgie’s full episode of Mentally Yours on Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts) now.

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