I am and have been prone to Youtube addiction in the past, when I would start by watching a video and ‘wake up’ a few hours later, wondering what happened.
I think some of the principle I will be covering in this article may be applied to other social media and video platforms, but I will focus on Youtube because it is what I know, addiction wise.
With all it’s great and not so great content, it is easy to get lost in Youtube for a very long time. Because the recommandation are tailored to your interest, you almost always find something ‘interesting’ to watch, and if you don’t, you often actively try to look for something as a way to procrastinate.
On the other hand, Youtube is a vast library of knowledge,with content that is often well presented, easily digestible, and entertaining. With Youtube, you can learn almost any skills, and have great tips on almost any topic.
These are pretty good benefits which might be difficult to give up but it is pretty difficult to find a balance. It’s safe to say that “Youtube is a good servant, but a poor master.”
What are some things you can do to use this tool more effectively, and stop being addicted:
-limit you time:
The first thing you can do to be more reasonable with Youtube is to limit your time.
Set a timer for a duration of your choosing and try to stick to it and not exceed the limit. By doing so, you allow yourself to do what you enjoy, within a reasonable time frame.
If you cannot control yourself and tend to watch it pass your alloted time some blocking tools might be useful to implement such as Stayfocused, Focalfilter, Leechblock or Wastenotime
The other thing you can do is actually track yourself. Do you know how much time you are actually spending on Youtube? Because the videos are of a short duration, it is difficult to remember how many you’ve watched and how long it took.
You can use a tracking tool to notice how much time you actually spend on Youtube, it might surprise you. Once you have a proper metric of how much time you spend, you can work on gradually reducing the amount day after day to more reasonable standards.
-Consider a Youtube fast:
Youtube can literally become a drug and release dopamine in your brain every time you use it. If you think you are addicted and automatically resort to going on Youtube when you are down, feeling lost, or have a spare second, you might want to consider cutting it all together until you can get leverage on yourself.
Use tool to completely bloc the site of you computer, banning it for a sustained period of time. I recommend trying at least 30 days and see how you feel.
You might find that you are happy without and don’t need it at all. Or maybe try and experiment and implement it again in small doses. Doing a Youtube fast is always an available option if you find that the time you spend on it is getting out of hand.
-Have a purpose:
You can often end up spending so much time on Youtube because you are precisely there to pass the time. You don’t know what to do with yourself so you just turn on the screen to be distracted.
Try to have a purpose before you go on Youtube. By knowing what kind of information you are after, or what is your expectation for watching Youtube, you are much more likely to achieve what you are after and stop after that.
At anytime before going on the media, state your purpose.
For example: If you want some tips on how to improve your tennis serve; Go watch a couple of video, take notes and then stop.
Or maybe, you want to be inspired by a new idea, watch a TED talk that catchs your fancy, and before you start another one, stop and reflect on what was just said, you will get much more value out of it.
If you want to have some fun by watching a funny or gaming video. Allow yourself to watch one and enjoy yourself and then move on to do something else before you watch another.
If you state your purpose first, you are less likely to get tricked into a consuming loop.
Maybe you can even schedule when you are going to watch some Youtube videos and how much. That way, you can really look forward to it and enjoy it more, with less risk of falling into the unconscious watching trap:
-Plan when you will watch
-Plan what you will watch
-Plan how long you will spend
-Use Youtube as a reward rather than a default pastime
-Try to assess how much value you’ve got just after a Youtube session, as honestly as possible:
Did it answer you question? Did you learned something new? How much fun did you have? Did you consider it time well spent? Could you rate the time/value?. If you do that regularly, maybe you can isolate what kind of videos are valuable to you, if at all.
-Choose quality over quantity:
Whatever you are after, information, fun, inspiration, all videos are definitely not equal. The quality of the video highly determine how much value you can get out of it. In this fashion, a good video can compile and present well information in a topic in 5 min that a poor one does in 50 min.
Some of the funny videos are very good, while most of them are merely average.
Try to find sources that produces good quality content and stick with them because the value is likely to be higher.
-Subscribe to less channels:
Reflect carefully if what you are following is truly valuable to you or if it is extra noise.
When it come to choosing channel, you should prioritize what you are after just as you do when watching videos.
Because Youtube is so vast you can find hundreds of interesting channels on hundreds of interesting topic.
Maybe it is a good idea to choose one topic of interests at a time and pursue it, instead of being divided by lots of different topic that you never do anything about. It’s pretty hard to learn dancing, drawing, a new language, while watching animals and cat videos. If your interests are scattered, so is you energy.
In the same fashion, there is no need to subscribe to all the channel surrounding one topic, pick one or two that you find the most effective/interesting as content between similar channel tend to repeat itself anyway.
Don’t watch videos about the same thing twice. It’s not being thorough, it’s wasting your time. You might want to know all there is about a topic, but you often won’t get there with Youtube alone, if you want more depth after watching some video, look somewhere els, books, specialized website , online courses, etc.
You can also turn off notifications, so you won’t be prompted every time a new video comes up.
Consider using an add-blocker:
I understand that ads are how a lot of Youtuber exists and that cutting on ads reduce their profit.
However ads takes a lot of time. Often it can increase the amount of time to view a video by 10 to 20%, time that is literally wasted.
You have to choose for yourself if you want to bloc ads or not. Maybe you can still keep ads, and view only videos from people you support, which content you really like.
All in all, I think Youtube channels should have deeper motivations than financial gains, and Youtube can be used to promote the start of businesses instead of pushing random products. I personally don’t feel bad for blocking ads, it saves me time and mental cluster. If you particularly like a content creator, consider donating to them instead, buy their products or their merchandises to support them.
Tailor your Youtube recommandation with ‘good’ videos:
If your video recommandation is plagued with time wasting content, that add little value to your self-development or not align with your objectives, try to get rid of them.
Delete all of you watch history and search history. Reseting those will reset the recommendation to a blank slate for the Youtube algorithm.
Unsubscribe to the channel from topic you are no longer interested in, so videos of this kind don’t come up.
Watch a few video that are more positive for you own development and fit with your objectives. The recommendation will start peeking up on those instead of tempting time wasters that are so hard to resist.
How you get tricked into watching more Youtube:
There are a few we get tricked into staying into it’s vortex:
First the auto-play feature that automatically starts a new video after you have just finished playing one will insure videos keep on playing until you have the courage to stop, triggering you again and again.
You can turn off the auto-play feature of Youtube by ticking of the little blue slider on the bottom right of your video.
Youtube also banks on the fear of missing out to make use dig for the next video. We end up scrolling and watching a lot of crap content in the hope of finding that one gold nugget video. That promise of reward trick our brain into getting hooked and release constant streams of dopamine.
Try to rationalise and realize that you are chasing a dream. Focus on getting what you are after and leave. Manage your number of subscription to a low amount with good content, and stick to it.
Because content creators want your views and subscription, titles and video photos are design as click-baits to attract your attention. Learn to recognize click-baits, especially their sources. Once you’ve isolated this practice from some content creator, stay away from them. Try to stay with video with descriptive title, and relevant picture, instead of photos of butts, titles in CAPS, with tons of exclamation marks.
Be careful of scrolling down comments. Don’t scroll down to read comment on video, 99% is trash. If you do rid the first couple and move one. You can end up spending a lot of time reading useless comment and uninteresting opinion, that adds nothing to your life.
Manage Youtube recommandation as it is what first attract your attention when you first access the site. Because the topic are tailored to your interests, it is difficult to resists videos that catch your eyes.
To recap, here are some strategies to help you spend less and better quality time on Youtube:
-Limit your time
-consider a Youtube fast
-Have a purpose
-choose quality over quantity
-subscribe to less channel
-consider using add blocker
Thanks for reading