Is It Time for a Social Media Detox?
There’s no doubt social media has the power to bring people together in a powerful way. But it also has the ability to do the opposite. And because the pandemic has isolated us from friends, family, and the outside world, it has become even harder to escape the grip social media has on our lives.
But research is shining light on the increasing negative effect social media has on our overall health, especially on young minds. Take a look for yourself:
- As many as 72% of teens say they have been cyberbullied at some point.
- Research on adolescents has found that body image, for girls and boys, is harmed by social media use.
- A 2017 study of over half a million 8th through 12th graders found that those exhibiting high levels of depressive symptoms increased by 33% between 2010 and 2015. In that same period, the suicide rate for girls in the same age group increased by 65%.
- In one 2020 study, people who deactivated their Facebook account for a month reported lower depression and anxiety, as well as increases in happiness and life satisfaction.
Social media has become so intertwined in our lives that it can be hard to tell whether it’s really a problem or not. So if you find yourself nodding your head in agreement and reluctantly admitting you do one or more of the below, you may want to consider doing a social media detox.
- The content you’re viewing leaves you feeling sad, anxious, or upset.
- You’re refreshing your feed every few minutes.
- You take down posts if they haven’t reached a certain number of “likes.”
- You feel anxious when you don’t have access to your phone.
- Social media interferes with your productivity.
- You check social media when you’re spending time with friends or family.
- You find yourself starting elaborate projects just so you can post about it.
- You are disengaged with real life/the moments happening around you.
From cyberbullying to comparing body images to time lost mindlessly scrolling through our newsfeeds, it’s time we gain back control of our lives. But how? Here are a few ways you can do that.
Pick the same time every day for checking social media. Be mindful about when and for how long you use it. Consistency is key. Pick a reasonable amount of time and stick with it.
So, say you decide to allow yourself 30 minutes of social media use at 7:30 p.m. every night. That means no checking Facebook as you’re sitting in the fast-food drive-thru or posting a selfie as you’re bored at work. Be engaged with the moments happening around you; even if that’s strangers walking by or birds chirping in a nearby tree.
Whatever you do, designate your social media schedule for a time of day where you don’t have much going on. This way you aren’t disengaged with moments happening in real time during the buzz of the day.
There are so many other virtual ways—apart from social media—to connect with family and friends. So make the effort to engage with loved ones using other means than the occasional “double tap” or “like.” Here are just a few ideas:
- Create a family blog where you can share your day, tell stories, or exchange jokes.
- Have a fitness competition with your friends and family using Fitbit.
- Host a virtual book club once a week using Zoom.
- Have trivia or game night using Jackbox.
Another way to be intentional with social media is to unfollow people or groups who consistently leave a sour taste in your mouth or leave you feeling frustrated. You can control who you follow and the content you consume.
Research indicates a source of depression could be from what you’re not doing as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed. And that’s being physically active. Exercise changes the part of your brain that regulates stress and anxiety, increases the production of endorphins, and boosts sensitivity to the hormones that relieve feelings of depression. Sure, notifications produce a little burst of dopamine, but it’s short lived and doesn’t leave you with a sense of satisfaction for long.
So if you want to feel happier, get moving! Plus, staying active will help keep your mind and body busy, distracting you from the constant urge to check social media.
Like most things in life, everything is fine in moderation. You don’t need to say good riddance to social media altogether… just find a healthy balance. Know where you get sucked in and try your best to avoid becoming consumed by those things. Focus on the good social media can do but respect it for what it is and the addictive behaviors it can cause.
What are some ways you’ve reconnected with family and friends outside of social media? Let us know in the comments!