Social media is such a big part of the world we live in today. To put it in context, there are currently 3.9 billion active soical media users globally, and that number just keeps growing.
Insane right?! With the emergence of social media, came a lot of amazing things such as business opportunities, more jobs, plenty of amazing ways to connect, tons of marketing opportunities, and lots more. What also came along with the rise of social media was a decline in mental health – especially in teens. Surveys show that a whopping 90% of teens aged 13-17 in America have used social media. Almost 25% of those teens viewed social media as having a negative effect on them. This means what people are seeing online is more important than ever.
Since social media is still fairly new in comparison to other technology and it is continuously growing, stats on mental health effects have really just started to pop up in the last few years. While social media is an amazing tool that offers us the ability to connect, find community, or just have fun. It can also be a source of comparison, negativity, “fake news,” misinformation, narcissm.. and the list goes on.
Getting caught up in all of the noise online can get exhausting, and even as a social media specialist I sometimes find that I have a love-hate relationship with the world of all things social.
That is why I want to introduce the concept of social media detoxing to you! If you have never heard of it before, let me explain. Put simply, a social media detox is a reduction or elimination of social media use for a set period of time. This can include staying off social media apps or deleting them as a whole. Without consciously realizing it, many of us are addicted to social media and our phones. A lot of us can benefit from unplugging and focusing on other things, especially if we notice that we are more stressed or anxious after spending time on these platforms.
Who would have thought a “social media detox” would ever be a thing? Certainly not me! But I will admit that I have tried it out before and in my experience, it was absolutely beneficial. I also have plenty of friends who took some time to stay off social media and delete their apps, they reported feeling happier overall.
If you think about it this way, social media is the first time in history where we have had access to see what billions of people are doing around the world. This is a bittersweet thing, because for the first time we have been exposed to so many new things and learned so much about the way people are living. At the same time, it can feel like information overload and leave you feeling filled with “FOMO” (fear of missing out) on life and what other people are up to. I think a downfall of social media, epscially apps like Instagram and Facebook is that oftentimes they are a highlight reel of someone’s life. We get to see other people traveling the world, getting job promotions, buying houses, getting married, etc. It seems like some people’s lives are just so perfect right? Well, the truth is we don’t get to see the other side of life which is the failiures, heartbreaks, loss, trauma, and all the other things that we as human beings all deal with.
If a social media detox sounds like something you need in your life, here are some of my tips to get started:
1. Set a realistic timeline:
If it’s your very first time doing a social media detox, my number one tip would be setting a realistic timeline. I think it’s easy to jump into trying this out and setting the bar really high by saying, “I won’t use any social media for 30 days” and then getting down on yourself when you only last three full days. If you’re used to going on social media every day for a long period of time, it will be a challenge to go cold-turkey without any platforms. If you’re reading this, you’re definitely considering taking some time away from IG and Facebook, but try doing this slowly. Take a couple of days off at first to see how you feel, and if that works out well you can take some more time. Don’t compare yourself to how long other people need to take a hiatus from their social media, everyone is different and maybe a 3-day break is enough for you to get your mind right!
2. Ask a friend or loved one to join:
Is your boyfriend, sister, or best friend also addicted to checking their Twitter and watching YouTube videos first thing in the morning? If so, it might be a cool idea to suggest doing the social media detox together. Talk to them about the benefits of taking some time off and hold each other accountable. It’s been shown that accountability helps people stick to the goals that they set out for themselves.
3. Think of exciting things you can do during the day/evening that will distract you from thinking about being online:
A recent stat from statista.com says that in 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage amounted to 145 minutes per day. That’s over 2 hours of time on social media! It doesn’t seem like a lot when you look at it from a daily amount of usage, but multiply that amound by 7 days a week, and that’s a total of 14 hours. In that time you could be picking up a hobby, reading a book, cooking, calling a friend, or tons of other possibilities. A social media detox allows for time to prioritize thinking of fun things you can do during the time you’d usually be scrolling through social media. It might not even be about doing anything at all, maybe a social media detox will help you go to bed a bit earlier instead of scrolling into the late hours of the night.
4. Write down all your passwords or store them safely before deleting your apps:
This tip is super important! Before logging out or deleting your social media apps, make sure you write down or keep your passwords somewhere safe. I can’t even tell you how devastated I was when I accidentally deleted an app that I didn’t know my password for. Sometimes we are just so used to being automatically signed in that we forget the password we used to set up the account in the first place. If you’re an iPhone user, I highly suggest storing your passwords on your phone under passwords and accounts in settings. You can also use a website like lastpass.com to store all of your passwords!
5. Write down a sentence or two about how you feel each day you’re off social media:
One of the main purposes of a social media detox is to check in with yourself. I recommend taking notice of how you feel during this break from the digital world. Maybe you feel less anxious, or maybe you feel the same as before. Write it down! This will help you better understand the benefits or lack of you’re getting from taking this time off your accounts. In general journalling and checking in with yourself is so beneficial, I am sure you will find value in writing down how you feel during this detox.
I hope these tips find you well and make your social media detox a smooth one. Taking some time offline can be an amazing thing, and dare I say, an act of self-love. Choosing to rest, unplug, and focus on other things will absolutely feel rewarding. I also want to encourage you to do your best and try and compare yourself less to others. Comparison is a thief of joy, and in the end you’re only hurting yourself. Be grateful for the life you have and know that not everything it what it seems, especially on Instagram. Here’s to being more engaged in real life!