Boundaries Keep Us Safe : Technology Edition

January 30, 2023

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Written By : Aisha R. Shabazz, LCSW

For you, the desire to tune into what’s happening around the world is about more than just the fear of missing out. 

As a socially conscious human-being, it’s important for you to stay informed, but unless you’re an investigative journalist, is it really necessary to be tuned into the 15 second news cycle, 24/7/365?

You’ve heard the stats on how an increase in screen time can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression, hence why I keep these blogs short, sweet, and to the point, so that you don’t have to stay too glued to your screen. 

But did you know that recent studies show that digesting certain types of stories, images, and videos can mimic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Instead of feeling on edge, let’s use technology to help you create boundaries that will keep your mind, body, & soul safe, and reduce the likelihood that you’ll be caught off guard during your daily routine. 


Clean up your social media feed

Go through your social media feed and unfollow accounts that are posting about topics that activate your fight or flight response. 

Most of the social media companies, including instagram, created features where you can mute instagram stories or an entire instagram feed without having to unfollow the account. 

Why would you choose to mute an account versus unfollow them?

Well, if you’re like any of the 4.9 million people who have a social media account, I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with the endless cycle of images, quotes, and videos about topics you don’t have the capacity to ingest. 

You can also filter out specific words, so that your timeline isn’t flooded with the latest trending hashtag or topic. 

By muting or filtering out certain posts, you can regain control over your social media timeline in no time. 

Here’s a tutorial of how you can filter out specific words on TikTok. 

  • Open the TikTok app, and click on the profile icon in the bottom right hand corner 
  • Then click the “3 lines” in the top right corner of your screen
  • Select “Settings & Privacy” and then scroll down to “Content Preferences”

In order to identify videos that you don’t want to see, you have to create a list of words that you think will be featured in those videos. You can have multiple words but you have to enter in each word or hashtag separately. 

  • Click “Filter Video Keywords”
  • Click the pink button “add keyword”
  • Then you’ll be given the option to add one word or one hashtag
  • You can choose to have videos filtered by the “for you” page and/or the “following” page.
  • Once you’ve entered your selection, press save.

In order to delete words from your list, just tap the trashcan icon next to the word or hashtag you’d like to remove. 

If you don’t want to see videos labeled as restricted, you can tap “Restricted Mode”

  • Tap the pink “Turn on” button
  • Enter your TikTok Password
  • And your preferences will be saved. 
  • In order to remove restricted mode, you have to re-enter your password. 


Create screen time limits

Setting screen time limits on your smartphone, creates a gentle reminder and self imposed accountability factor for you to be on your phone less. 

Technology has advanced so much that you can even set screen time limits on your smartphone for each individual app.

Here’s a link to walk you through how to set up screen time limits on your iPhone or your Android Device

Do you think Netflix & Hulu will install this feature on their platform?


Schedule time to tune in 

Now that you’ve put technology to good use and created boundaries that will decrease unpredictable moments of tension on your social media feed, let’s talk about what happens when you decide that you do want to tune in and learn about what’s happening. 

Instead of going into unknown territory alone, consider watching the news with a friend or loved one that shares your compassionate mindset.  

Before joining together, decide on which platform you’ll watch or listen to (live TV, social accounts, radio station or podcast), how much time you spend getting up to speed, decide if you’ll watch in silence and debrief afterwards, and how you’ll take care of yourselves once you’re done. 

This is an example of how planning ahead creates a concrete boundary for your mind, body, and soul to feel emotions and address the impact by meeting your needs. 


Let’s sum this up

Whether you choose to get rid of social media altogether or take intermittent tech timeouts, your ability to set limits is one way you can take care of your mind, body, and soul. 

There are many ways to stay informed without being thrusted into a tense tailspin of the 15-second news cycle, that doesn’t require you to completely tune out the world forever. You can use technology to help you create boundaries around where, when, and how you are kept in the loop.


If you found this blog helpful, please share it with a friend.

Disclaimer: This mental health blog is for informational purposes and is intended to help destigmatize mental health. It is strongly discouraged to use the information contained in this blog in a coercive manner. This information is not intended to diagnose or serve as a substitute for treatment from a licensed mental health professional. 

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