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Reddit is a social sharing platform which allows users – known as Redditors – to submit links, photos, videos and comments on millions of different topics, called subreddits, that everyone can vote on.
Are you or a loved one spending too much time browsing Reddit? This article highlights the common signs of an addiction to Reddit and explains how to quit or reduce your dependency on it.
What makes Reddit so addictive?
Reddit can become addictive for the same primary reason as other social media networks – dopamine. Every time a Redditor browses the platform or engages in discussions, the feel-good neurotransmitter is released in their brain. Sometimes described as ‘digital heroin’, dopamine can be hugely addictive as it entices users to keep returning to the platform for more highs. What may start as a quick check of the main news stories can easily turn into hours of clicking, browsing and commenting.
One unique aspect of Reddit is karma which reflects how much a user’s contribution means to the community. Karma is measured in points – the total amount of upvotes versus downvotes earned for posts, comments and giving awards. With every new upvote, the brain creates more dopamine-driven feedback loops – rewarding behavior and encouraging further interaction.
Reddit has an endless amount of information to consume. You can participate in discussions or just lurk and browse for yourself. The platform is incredibly diverse which allows you to find any type of community you can imagine. The endless flow of new content allows an individual to receive a lot of variety, so anytime you open the Reddit app and refresh your home feed you will find new content to peak your interests. Thus, leading you to spending more time on the platform than you would like, or is healthy for you. This is similar to binge-watching Netflix or YouTube, but instead it’s binge-reading content on Reddit.
Real-life stories of users addicted to Reddit
Although there are no statistics available for Reddit addiction, it is estimated that around 5-10% of Americans have social media addiction. Here is an insight into how some Reddit users are struggling to control their habits and how another has successfully stopped using the platform.
How do I quit Reddit?
“I am a person who constantly wastes time browsing Reddit. Like now for example, it is 3am in the morning and I am still browsing Reddit. How do I stop browsing Reddit so I can have more time for productivity?”
“I’ve learned a lot since joining this site, but I find my life being consumed by it. Every time I sit down at the computer, even if I don’t want to visit Reddit, I repeatedly am sucked in. It’s killing my social skills and my productivity. What is a good way to quit?”
Why I stopped using Reddit
“I feel like Reddit almost shaped the person I was from ages 18-20. It’s like I wouldn’t commit to a view unless the majority of Reddit agreed. I almost based my opinions on the most upvoted comments. About two years ago I started using this site less and less and devoted my time to my hobbies, my girlfriend, and enjoying my life outside of the internet. Now I really like myself and have never felt more content with who I am.”
What defines an addiction to Reddit?
As Reddit addiction is not a recognized disorder, there is no official definition. However, if you or someone you care about are experiencing some of the symptoms below, you may be addicted to Reddit:
- Spending hours at a time browsing or commenting on Reddit.
- Feeling an uncontrollable urge to use Reddit when away from the platform.
- Needing to spend more and more time on Reddit to get the same high.
- Trying to control, cut down or stop using Reddit, without success.
- Having withdrawal symptoms – such as feeling irritable, restless or anxious – when away from the platform.
- Scrolling through endless subreddits to escape from personal problems.
- Continuing to use Reddit even when it negatively affects other areas of life.
- Hiding lengthy Reddit sessions from others.
- Sacrificing sleep to consume more and more Reddit.
- Unable to stop browsing Reddit during meals and other activities.
- Neglecting work, school, family and friends to devote time to Reddit.
- Losing interest in other hobbies and pastimes previously enjoyed.
10 ways to control your Reddit usage
Are you wondering how to quit Reddit? Even if you are not addicted to Reddit, it might still be causing problems in your life. If you want to stop wasting time scrolling through subreddits and checking your karma, here are 10 steps you can take:
1. Set a daily Reddit limit
Be mindful about when and why you are scrolling through Reddit. Set a daily limit and stop using the platform when you reach that threshold. Our Recommended Screen Time Guidelines will help you decide on an appropriate amount of time to spend on Reddit each day.
2. Delete the Reddit app
Try deleting the Reddit app from your smartphone and switching to the web browser instead. Restricting access in this way will help you be more intentional about when you engage with the platform. You can also consider deleting your Reddit account itself.
3. Block Reddit from one or more devices
If you often get distracted by the platform at work, you can delete it from your work phone or computer then we recommend to block Reddit on your device itself.
4. Switch to anonymous browsing mode
Use Reddit in anonymous browsing mode (also known as incognito mode) so you have to login every time you check the website. It also means you can’t post, vote or comment which should help you spend less time on the app.
5. Disable Reddit notifications
Blocking notifications from Reddit will make you less tempted to go onto the app. Here’s how to do it:
- Log onto Reddit
- Click on Profile and select User Settings
- Go to Notifications
- Switch off the Reddit notifications you want to disable
6. Unsubscribe from subreddits
Try unsubscribing from some or all of your subreddits so you are less tempted to keep checking them for new links, discussions and images.
7. Do a Reddit detox
If you are constantly drawn to Reddit, try removing it from your life for a certain amount of time: 24 hours, a weekend or longer. The aim is not to quit Reddit indefinitely but to start using it again in a more balanced way. Find out more in our Ultimate Guide to a Digital Detox.
8. Find other activities
Rather than making Reddit your default activity, find other ways to fill your time. Perhaps listen to a podcast, read a book or take up new hobbies and interests. Get inspired by our 50 Best Screen-Free Activities by Age.
9. Cut out triggers
If you spend hours on Reddit before bed and it’s the first thing you check on waking, leave your phone outside the bedroom. If you scroll through Reddit when you take the bus to school or work, try walking or cycling instead. Small changes can help you avoid the things that trigger your Reddit usage.
10. Visualize yourself succeeding
Imagine yourself not needing to constantly scroll through Reddit, regaining control of your life and feeling proud that you have overcome your dependency on it.
Although these tips are not guaranteed to stop Reddit addiction, they may help you manage your cravings and reduce your risk of developing unhealthy habits.
Get help for digital or gaming addiction
If you are struggling to control your Reddit use, despite following our suggestions, you may need professional support. As Reddit addiction is not officially recognized as a disorder, there is no formal treatment. However, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – also known as talking therapy – can be effective at changing unhealthy patterns of behavior.
Sometimes, people who are addicted to Reddit also struggle with digital or gaming disorder. If you or someone you care about are compulsively gaming or using tech, and experiencing negative consequences, contact us to book your Gameplan call.