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Am I addicted to social media? Dan Howell and LGBTQ YouTube stars share advice

Struggling the switch off? Here's what you can do to climb out of the scroll hole.

By Will Stroude

Like it or loathe it, social media is an almost inescapable part of our lives – but how do you know when you’re too deep into the scroll hole?

As part of a new four-part video series to coincide with World Mental Health Day (10 October), Dan Howell has teamed up with Attitude and LGBTQ content creators to share tips and advice for staying mentally healthy and happy.

Part one sees 29-year-old Dan discuss social media addiction, how to spot it and how to break the cycle with fellow YouTubers Amp Summers, Chandler Wilson, Emi Salida, Justin ‘King of Reads’, Jessica Kellgren, Dion Yorkie and Sebb Argo

“Social media can often feel very overwhelming and it’s very possible to develop a problematic relationship with it, which is why it’s important to find balance”, says Dan, who opens up about his mental health and coming out journey in the Attitude November issue – out now to download and to order globally.

“A clear sign that you’ve spent too much time on the internet is when the voices in your head of the social media conversation is louder than what’s going on in the real world.

“I’ve had times where I’ve put my phone down after looking at an argument on Twitter and I’m like ‘Wow, for a whole chunk of time there I was more sucked into the reality on my phone than the world around me’. My emotions got changed by what I was reading on the internet.

Dan Howell (Photography: Markus Bidaux)

“You know what you do then? You put your phone down. You look at a leaf for a minute. You take one deep breath.”

Tips for breaking social media addiction

  • Set usage limits on your phone for apps
  • Take time to do things off the internet
  • Set specific times for being away from your phone
  • Go for a walk or read
  • Turn off push notifications for social media
  • Don’t sleep next to your phone

You don’t have to see everything or be involved in every virtual conversation

“There were definitely days… where I would just sit looking for hours, I just couldn’t not be part of the conversation when people were talking about something that was happening”, reflects Dan.

“People were arguing about something; I had to read every single comment, I had to keep going to the end.

“Eventually I just got exhausted, even from just silently reading things that were happening on my laptop. I just had to start telling myself ‘I don’t have to see everything’.

“It’s the fear of missing out of these virtual conversations, and one day I was like ‘I need some damn respect for myself. I don’t need to be involved in this’.”

Curate your feed

“I feel like a lot of people feel obligated to follow 20 newspapers and a bunch of celebrities that they might not care about – and even some people in their life that they might not want to see what they’re posting but they feel like they have to”, says Dan.

“Don’t do that, please!”

He adds: “Your social media, the time that you spend on there – radical idea: make it stuff that makes you feel good.

Photography: Markus Bidaux

“If you see something and it doesn’t spark joy, unfollow!

“Hey, and if it’s your mum and she added you on Facebook, mute the notification – she’ll never know about it, just say you’re busy. Sorry mum!”

Dan Howell’s mental health book/self-help guide ‘You Will Get Through This Night’ is set for release in May 2021.

The Attitude November issue is out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe in print and get your first three issues for just £3, or digitally for just £1.54 per issue.