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5 ways to take back your power on social media

(Dr. Susan Mathison writes a column called Positively Beautiful in Fargo and recently offered tips on handling social media. The following is a portion of her column published this week.)

Here are 5 ways that you can lay down boundaries and create a healthier, saner relationship with technology and social media:

1. Use the 15-minute rule and make a plan. Numerous social media experts recommend setting a "time limit" for your daily social media usage and then creating a specific plan for how you intend to use that time. It's like going into your job and saying, "Hmm, OK guys, uh, what are we doing today?" versus going into your job and having a clear to-do list, ready to roll.

2. Use privacy settings. Most social media platforms have a privacy setting that allows you to restrict who can view your profile. If you feel uncomfortable giving "the entire Internet" permission to read about (and comment upon) your life, this can be a good way to reduce stress and protect yourself from people you don't wish to engage with.

3. Deactivate profiles you don't use or enjoy. So many social media networking platforms have popped up over the past 10 years, and if you're like me, you created a new "username and profile" for every single one. Because, who knows? You might need it someday!

My advice: clear the decks. Deactivate profiles that you don't use often. At the very least, delete the tabs from your browser and delete the apps from your phone. Give yourself a little more breathing room.

4. Make a classy exit. If you decide to bid farewell to a particular social media site, for a temporary break or a permanent one, but you don't want to just "vanish" with no explanation, you can make a classy exit.

This is an opportunity to be creative and to use social media for its original intended purpose: to express yourself and connect with others. You could post a "goodbye" video, a drawing, a photo, or even a short poem to say to your friends, "Thanks for the memories. Bye for now! Feel free to call, text or write me a letter."

5. Focus on less screen time overall. Many of us are quick to blame social media for sucking up so much of our time and energy. An even bigger issue, though, is the fact that most of us spend an average of 75 percent of our waking life glued to some kind of digital screen.

You don't have to be a physician to recognize that's not healthy.

Even just reducing your screen time by 30 minutes a day, and then using those 30 minutes to take a brisk walk outside in the fresh air could transform your whole day.

Regardless of how you choose to engage with social media — 15 minutes a day, 2 hours a day, once a week, never at all — the big lesson to remember is that you are in charge. Your relationship with technology can be anything you want it to be. And if your current relationship doesn't feel good? You can change that. The power is, quite literally, in your fingertips.

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