Hang Up & Hang Out
Benefits and tips for a successful social media detox
If you are anything like me, you have probably had days where your screen time has been a little more than you would like to admit. Maybe you found yourself scrolling for hours through a celebrity’s Instagram page. Maybe you accidentally went down a Twitter rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. Maybe you needed ‘just 10 more minutes!’ on TikTok. Feeling guilty? You shouldn’t. We all do it! Social media is fun, it’s entertaining, it’s an escape from reality- and that is the problem. Social media is not real.
Let me say that one more time.. social media is not real. See, the illusion of social media is that it has become an edited, smoothed, and filtered alternate universe that we have begun to accept as reality. For instance, when you view someone’s Instagram page, you see the fun, pretty parts of their life through rose-colored.. filters. You see their beautiful beachside vacation, their picture-perfect latte, and their effortlessly stunning selfies. What you don’t see is their bad days, their insecurities, their fears. The truth behind social media is that it can only depict how people preferto be viewed through a carefully-curated feed, not who we truly are as complex, three-dimensional beings. And while social media is in fact a very helpful tool that helps us connect and share information and ideas with others, multiple studies have shown the downsides to social media- linking excessive usage to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.
Recently, I posted a questionnaire on my Instagram story titled, “social makes me feel ____.” Surprisingly, I got a lot of interaction from the poll, with a total of 40 responses. The majority of the responses included keywords such as: ‘insecure’, ‘insignificant’, ‘ugly’, ‘anxious’, ‘performative’, and ‘lonely’. According to an article from New York Behavioral Health:
“While social media can be a wonderful tool, offering access to information about a wide range of people and allowing unlimited networking opportunities, there is a potential downside to frequent social media use. As people use social media sites in their everyday life, they risk overexposure to upward social comparison information that can have a cumulative negative effect on their well-being.”
So if you often find yourself feeling anxious, insecure, or lonely due to social media, you might be in need of a social media detox. But what is a social media detox, really? Social media detoxing means taking a voluntary break from using social media applications- whether it be a week, a month, or more-in order to clear your mind. Check out the benefits of social media detoxing, and tips on how to stick to it below.
Improved Focus and Productivity
After completing a social media detox myself, I noticed a substantial improvement in mental clarity in my day-to-day life. Rather than spending my attention on 30-second TikToks, I could utilize my focus on my more productive things. I found myself able to pay more attention in my classes, meetings, and social interactions without constantly checking my phone. But don’t just take it from me! This study from The National Library of Medicine shows the positive correlation between social media detoxing and focus in college students- “most students reported positive change in mood, better professional productivity, reduced anxiety and improved sleep”.
Being Present in the Moment
A lot of the time, social media can make us feel pressured to post where we are and what we are doing at all times. Have you ever heard the phrase, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” That same principle can be applied to social media; you might find yourself asking, “will this plate of food taste just as good if I don’t post it?” Well, here’s the good news: that plate of food will still be just as good, your workout will still be just as productive, and that sunset will still be just as beautiful. Better yet, you will be able to enjoy every moment of that meal, workout, and sunset even more because you’re living in those moments for yourself, not for others to see.
Since spending less time on social media has been proven to reduce anxiety, self-criticism, and “FOMO”, it is no surprise that it can also result in an improved mood! When you unplug from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, you will have so much more time to spend with family, friends, and yourself. With an increase in confidence, sleep, and productivity, you can be sure that social media detoxing is definitely worth a try.
How to Do It
- Identify which apps are consuming your time the most. If you are unsure of which platform you spend the most time on, check your screen time and ‘most used’ apps in settings.
- Put a time limit on your social media apps. Setting a time limit for apps is a fool-proof way to create accountability during a social media detox. Your phone will automatically notify you when your time limit is about to expire for each app.
- Customize ‘focus’ modes for your phone. Apple’s newest feature sets automatic restrictions on your phone by inducing “Do Not Disturb” and “Focus” settings for any circumstance- whether you are driving, sleeping, or working. This feature can also share customized statuses (fitness, gaming, reading, mindfulness, and more) with your contacts. View a tutorial on how to turn on and customize settings for these features here.
- Inform your close circle. Having a support system during a social media detox is so important. Bonus points if you have your friends and family detox with you!
- Give yourself some grace. Social media has become so deeply ingrained in our day-to-day routines, especially since the pandemic. So give yourself some grace while adjusting to decreased screen time! And remember, all progress is good progress.
If you are in immediate need of crisis support, contact the 24/7 Crisis Support Hotline: https://cssnv.org and (1-800-273-8255)
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