6 ways to avoid social media distraction while learning online

It’s easy to get distracted and check your social media during online classes.

If you’ve fallen into the habit of constantly browsing social media and news sites when you should be paying attention to your lecturer, here are 6 tips that will help you get back on track.

1. Close any social media sites & apps. Now.

It may seem like a no brainer, but have you actually tried it?

Once you close any social media sites you have open on your desktop computer, trust us, you can’t get distracted by them anymore. When it’s time to join that Zoom classroom, everything related to social or other non-study related media should be closed and your attention should be towards your lecturer only.

2. Limit your smartphone usage

When you’re not physically sitting in front of your teacher in a classroom, it’s so tempting to unlock your smartphone and start browsing through social media apps. To deactivate the notifications for all your apps may not be quick and easy so how about limiting your phone usage?

There are many apps available that can limit and monitor your smartphone usage. Here are two similar apps for Android and IOS users:

Screen Time – Restrain yourself & Parental Control

Available in the Play Store for Android.


  • App Daily usage - Shows a detailed view of your daily mobile phone usage.
  • App Weekly usage - Checks the statistics of your mobile phone usage in the last week and shows your daily usage trends.
  • App & Category Limit - You can set a daily duration limit for each app or type of app and even a different duration for each day.
  • App Always Allowed List – Pick which apps are important for usage and whitelist them so the use of these apps will no longer be restricted.

Screen Time

This app is built-in on IOS 12 and all you need to do is enable it in settings.


  • App limits - You can set daily limits for app categories with App Limits.
  • View your report and set limits - Screen Time gives you a detailed report about how your device is used, apps you've opened, and websites you've visited.
  • Downtime - When you schedule downtime in Settings, only phone calls and apps that you choose to allow are available.
  • Always Allowed - You might want to access certain apps, even if it's downtime or if you set the All Apps & Categories app limit.

3. Turn off your phone or leave it out of reach

If you feel like limiting screen time still won’t be effective, then actually turning off your phone can make a huge difference. Next time you grab it to unlock the screen, you’ll be forced to pause and consider what you’re about to do. If you’re the type of person that unlocks their phone every few minutes, then this tip is for you.

However, if you want to go the extra mile then you can leave your phone in a place where it’s out of reach from you, far away from where you work and study – or ask someone else in your household to keep it for you till your class is over or assignment is in.

4. Create a social media schedule

It may sound counterintuitive but giving yourself permission to use social media is actually a great way to have discipline. Use a calendar or planner and mark out a time during the day that you will let yourself go on social media as well as how long for. This is a trial and error so pick which times works best for you – as long as it’s not during your class times!

Here are some examples:

  • If your class starts at 10am, then at 9:30am, spend 20 minutes scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.
  • Spend 5-10 minutes checking messages on your phone after your alarm goes off at 7:30am.
  • Have lunch at 11am and at 11:30am, spend 15 minutes on TikTok.

It’s important to be realistic with this schedule according to your social media habits though otherwise it won’t work. Setting up the right schedule will enable you to have more control of your time and you’ll start to do more productive work rather than procrastinating.

5. Research where your time is going and use reminders

This is where a ‘Screen time’ measuring app can be useful. Look at which apps you use often and write down which you need to impose limits on. For example, if you are on TikTok for two hours a day make a note saying, “Limit time spent on TikTok to 1 hour and 30 minutes”.

Do this each day, gradually cutting down the duration until you reach a time that is realistic for you to maintain. This is an effective way of training yourself to decrease your time spent on social media.

6. Replace your time on social media with other activities

Replacing something that you do often isn’t easy so start small. This also applies to distractions other than social media. Perhaps you spend too much time on your laptop watching YouTube videos – why not read a book or go for a walk for 30 minutes instead? Sometimes disconnecting yourself from social media can help you focus on things that can be more productive. Maybe try a new hobby, or spend more time with your family or housemates.

You will start feeling better about yourself once you find more productive uses for your time. The less time you spend on social media, the less easily you will be distracted.

Read more tips on how to study effectively.