A new study explores the pros and cons of the "social media vacation" trend.
Posted June 20, 2019
It is no secret that social media can be intrusive, disruptive, and habit-forming. So taking a break from Facebook, Instagram, and other popular social websites should be a good thing, right?
Not so fast, new research tells us. According to a recent paper published in the journal PloS ONE, the extent to which a “social media vacation” can benefit one’s mental health depends on the way a person interacts with social media. Different social media user “types” respond differently to social media hiatuses.
To come to this conclusion, researchers at the University of New England in Australia designed an experiment to test how a social media vacation would impact people’s mood and well-being. The researchers recruited 78 people to participate in a two-part study. In the first part, participants were asked to use social media as they normally would for a span of one week. During that time, researchers tracked participants’ social media use via RescueTime, an application that monitors logins and time spent on social websites. At the end of the week, participants were asked to complete a survey that measured positive and negative emotions and life satisfaction.
Additionally, participants were asked to describe how they tend to use social media. The researchers used these descriptions to divide people into two user types: active users (e.g., people who tend to make new friends, write status updates, create invitations, and comment on people’s posts) and passive users (people who primarily scroll through their newsfeed, view other people’s posts and status updates, and look at other people’s photos).
In phase two of the study, the researchers randomly assigned half of the participants to complete a week-long social media break. The other half (the control condition) was allowed to continue using social media websites. At the end of the week, researchers again measured participants’ emotional states and life satisfaction.
Here’s what they found. First, phase one of the study revealed that the participants in this sample spent approximately 64 minutes per day on social media sites. Furthermore, the amount of time participants spent on social media during phase one was not associated with their emotional state or well-being.
Of specific interest to the researchers was whether participants’ emotional states or life satisfaction would be influenced by the social media vacation and whether this relationship would depend on one’s social media user “type.” Contrary to expectations, they found that taking a week-long break from social media services negatively impacted active users’ emotional state. This suggests that actively using social media may be associated with the “formation and maintenance of social capital, which relates to positive consequences of increased self-esteem and subjective well-being.” For passive users, the social media vacation had no effect on participants’ emotional state.
The researchers write:
“[The] result is contrary to much popular expectation, and indicates that social networking site usage can be beneficial for active users. We suggest that users might be educated on the benefits of active usage, and on ways to improve their positive experience on social networking sites.”
Hanley, S. M., Watt, S. E., & Coventry, W. (2019). Taking a break: The effect of taking a vacation from Facebook and Instagram on subjective well-being. PloS one, 14(6), e0217743.
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 20: Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande arriving at the 2018 MTV Video Music . [+] Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on August 20, 2018. Credit: imageSPACE/MediaPunch /IPX
This week, singer Ariana Grande announced that she was taking a social media hiatus, in light of her broken engagement to comedian Pete Davidson.
Grande isn’t the only high-profile celebrity to go on a social media detox: Selena Gomez also announced her social media departure last month, and celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Ed Sheeran, and Leslie Jones have all temporarily pulled the plug on their platforms.
The truth is, stepping away from social media on a regular basis is a healthy ritual for all of us to practice, and not exclusively recommended during moments of transition, vulnerability, heightened anxiety, or crisis.
I spoke with Larissa May, mental health advocate and founder of the social media platform, #HalfTheStory , about the importance of regular social media breaks, the signs that it’s definitely time to log off, and how to take those first steps.
4 Reasons Why A Social Media Hiatus Is Critical
It helps you set boundaries. In Ariana Grande’s case, it bears mentioning that she’s also still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety after last year’s Manchester attack, as well as the recent death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller.
For many of us, social media can feel like an anxiety-fueled space, and it’s up to us to decide when to turn it off and not let the negativity seep into our personal space. Shutting off the noise on social media by taking a break can be the healthiest boundary you set for yourself , which is the ultimate form of self-care.
It helps you stay focused on your goals. Stepping away from social media ensures that you keep your eyes on your prize. This means no wasted energy thinking about others’ comments and who viewed your latest Instagram Story.
It helps you reclaim your time. With Apple iOS 12’s “Screen Time” feature, you can track your social media usage. I’m currently using this tool and discovered that I could have likely read Steve Jobs’ biography in the time I spent scrolling Instagram last week. So if you’re complaining about having zero time to go for a run or get to inbox zero, don’t give into social media’s procrastination pull.
It helps you reconnect and come back stronger. Selena Gomez included this message in her “going offline” Instagram caption: “Update: taking a social media break. Again. As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given. Kindness and encouragement only for a bit!”
Use this time to reconnect and upgrade a social media relationship to a real-life interaction, whether it’s a phone call or coffee date. Plan a night out with a friend you’ve been exchanging DMs with. Distract yourself with other “guilty pleasures” or self-care routines, like taking a day to recharge at the museum or catch a foreign film.
Now this part is key: Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, psychologist, speaker and champion for girls and women, reminds us that during a social media detox, you need to do the inner work. “T he reality is that it’s not all or nothing, and social media isn’t going away anytime soon. So how you use your time during a social media detox to deal with the issues offline, is key to ensuring you’re no longer triggered when you see a post online.”
So when it comes to comparing yourself to others, for example, be clear about your goals and do the self-work IRL to come out confident; it will help curb the anxiety that the Instagram comparison game creates.
Social media is an open forum for people to post their accomplishments , aha moments and big wins, and it will never stop being this. Equip yourself with the proper tools to ensure you’re not susceptible to triggers when you do log back on.
Signs it might be time to take a social media break:
Larissa May offers up this self-check list to monitor when and if it’s time for you to log off:
– Do you feel physical urges to be on social media?
– Do you feel a sense of anxiety from not being able to access social media?
– Do you feel low and unworthy after scrolling through your feed?
-Do you spend more than two hours a day on social media?
– Do you spend more time on social media interacting with others than you do IRL?
– Do you retreat to social media while feeling down? (A note about this: FOMO is natural and you might even scroll your feeds knowing it creates sad and jealous feelings, in a sadistic way. It’s important to recognize this habit and be aware that you’re doing it, to work on avoiding this habit.)
5 Ways To Try A Social Media “Lite” Detox
So can you cut your social media usage, cold turkey?
May explains: ” Research has found that technology addiction is similar to any other type of addiction. The rush and excitement that you feel after posting a photo is a neurochemical known as dopamine, or the ‘reward molecule.’ Dopamine is typically released after physical activity and hugs, but now social media is a large source of dopamine, creating a sense of belonging through likes, shares and notifications. Like any addiction, it’s almost impossible to go cold turkey and you should treat it as such.”
May shares these five steps:
Curb The Urge: Remove your notification alerts and group your social media apps into folders to make them more difficult to access.
Leave Your Phone At Home: When you first start limiting your social media use it can feel limiting and create feelings of anxiety. Challenge yourself to leave your phone at home while running errands or exercising, to create a safe space without access to social media.
Create Phone-Free Zones: Make mindfulness a habit by creating a space for your phone to charge outside of your bedroom. The blue light before bed can inhibit sleep, eyesight, and impact your mental state.
Sleep On Airplane Mode: If this is a possibility for you, turn on airplane mode before you go to bed, so that you won’t see notifications first thing in the morning. By creating a ritual that incorporates more “you time,” it will be easier for you to break the social media habit.
Start With Weekends Off: Sign out of all social media apps first thing Saturday morning to curb the craving. Monitor how you feel by Sunday night and resist the urge to log on until Monday.
And as a final reminder: don’t worry about missing anything on social during your break. All the inspiration and connections you need are all around you: it’s simply time you looked up and noticed it all.
Almost half of the world’s population is active on social media. Some people have a positive attitude towards social media, while others prefer to stay as far away from it as possible. According to a BOND report, most teens found social media positive for self-expression, self-identity, and community building, while sleep quality, fear of missing out, and bullying were labeled as the negative side of social media.
The Power of Social Media
Whether we want to accept it or not, social media is a key aspect of our lives. Having a social media presence is almost necessary when you’re searching for a job; it’s part of staying in touch with friends and family and can serve as a platform for staying informed.
However, social media is a powerful tool that plays mental games with us. Here at GR8NESS, we’ve talked about these issues before:
Signs It Is Time for a Social Media Break
When it comes to the benefits of disconnecting from social media, the list goes on forever. Obvious signs that call out for a social media break include feeling angry or depressed when you scroll through your feed. But beyond those, signs of being a social media addict include losing sleep over it, failing to complete responsibilities, isolating yourself from in-real-life friends, and so on.
If you feel as if you’re in between, take the GR8 Quiz below to find out if it’s time to take a break from social media. Or, if you’ve found the perfect balance between social media fantasy and real-life.
If your phone is a permanent fixture in your hand, and all you ever think about is your next Twitter update, then it may be time to cut back on social media. Social media is a wonderful thing — it connects us to friends and family who live near and far, it allows us to keep share our thoughts and ideas with the masses, and it’s a great way to get up-to-the-minute information from your favorite sources. But it can be all too easy to slide down the slippery slope of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, never to be seen again.
That may be a bit dramatic, but it’s true that a lot of us spend way too much time on social media. After all, it’s fun, it kills time, and hey, we all love to stay connected. In fact, according to BBC News, in August of this year, Facebook saw one billion people log on in a single day. That’s a hell of a lot of people posting status updates and liking pictures of their friend’s dogs.
And if you think about it, those one billion people probably didn’t just log on once. According to a report by CNN, some 13-year-olds check their social media up to 100 times a day. I’m sure us grown-ups would never check our phones that many times. No, no of course not.
For all the wonderful things about social media gives us, it can also get pretty annoying — angry tweets, Facebook stalking, and the pressure to post things all the time can drive anyone mad. Here are a few signs you’ve totally had it with social media, and should take a vacation.
1. You’re Stressed Out All The Time
I feel bad for those 13-year-olds because I’m a full-fledged adult and even I sometimes can’t handle the stress and chaos of my social media pages. Maintaining it all can often feel like a full-time job, and I sometimes wonder if I’m even enjoying myself anymore, or if it’s all just turned into another dumb obligation. Think about taking a break from all your status updates and tweets if it isn’t fun any more.
2. You Feel Separation Anxiety When Not Online
The world is not going to end if you miss one tweet, or don’t post a picture of your lunch. You should be able to spend a decent amount of time living your life sans Internet. If you can’t, then you are probably near that thin line of technology addiction. Try out a few days where you leave your phone at home (I know, the horror!) or at least keep it in your bag while at work. Do this until you feel OK not being plugged in every second of your day.
3. You Can’t Put Down Your Phone While With Friends
We’ve all been on that lunch date where everyone is on their phones, and it sucks. If you can’t stop Instagramming long enough to eat a meal with your friends, then you may have a problem. Consider implementing a rule where all phones go in the center of the table, and the first one to touch theirs has to pay for the meal.
4. It’s All You Can Think About
This is that feeling you get when driving down the road and you keep peeking over at your phone, tempted to pick it up and check it while driving. Don’t ever do this. Not only is it incredibly unsafe, but you should be able to forgo your online life for a few minutes while you drive.
5. You Are Constantly Comparing Yourself To Others
This is less about social media taking up too much of your time, and more about how it makes you feel. It’s important to remember that people post versions of their best selves online, so it’s important to not compare yourself to what you see in your feed. Remember that everyone’s apartment gets messy, despite what their Instagram photos show. Everyone has a rainy day on their vacation, despite their album of sunny tropical photos. And everyone has bad days, despite how happy they seem in their updates But, if you’re still comparing your life to others, it’s best to take a bit of a break from it all.
6. You Have A Fear Of Missing Out
Your Facebook feed can seem like a constant parade of all the fun stuff everyone else is doing, and it can really start to make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t keep your expectations in check. Not everyone has to have fun 24/7, even though the garage of photos and updates makes it seem that way. If it’s really bothering you, resist the urge to scroll through the litany of party posts and vacation pics.
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. If it’s leaving you feeling stressed, sad, or anxious, then give yourself a break and take a social media vacation.
Checking your phone first thing in the morning? Comparing yourself to other people on social media? Constantly feeling the urge to use your phone?
If the answer is yes, it’s time for a social media detox!
While it might seem difficult at first, separating from the social media roller coaster and taking a break might be the best thing you could do for yourself.
Did you know that more than 200 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from social media addiction?
Social media is such an important part of our lives nowadays that we’ve become addicted to it. While it has numerous benefits, it can also have a negative impact on our lives. In fact, studies show that heavy social media use increases the risk of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
Therefore, you should not hesitate to take a break from social media the minute it stops being fun and it starts making you feel anxious or depressed.
Check out some of the main benefits of separating yourself from social media:
- It will improve your mood:Research shows that the more time you spend on social media, the higher the chance of experiencing anxiety symptoms becomes. That’s why taking a break can significantly reduce your anxiety and improve your general well-being. Give it a try!
- You will reconnect with the real world: Spending too much time on social media can make you forget that it is not, in fact, the real world. Use this break to meet your friends in person, to go out in public, or to just spend time by yourself in nature.
- You will have more free time: Just think about how much time you are wasting on social media. Once you break free from this habit, you will be able to use all that time doing something productive or something that makes you happy.
- It will be easier to focus: Smartphones are probably our greatest distraction. You have probably experienced the urge to check social media while working or while doing something important. It’s time to stop doing it, as it’s significantly impacting your productivity.
If you would like to take a break, but you’re not sure where to start or you think it would be too difficult, you’ve come to the right place. I am here to help you start your social media detox and improve your mental health.
Here’s what you should do:
1. Find your motivation
Why do you want to take a break?
Find your ‘why’ and write it down. Once you do this, you will feel more motivated. Then, whenever you feel tempted to pick up your phone and check social media, remind yourself of the reasons for giving it up.
Also, set a clear goal and stick to it. You can start with a short period of time, such as a day or a week, and then continue for longer if you feel the need to. Furthermore, at the end of the period, you can reward yourself if you’ve accomplished your goal.
2. Turn off your notifications
Whether you want to go offline for a few days, or just take a break for a few hours while you are working on something else, turning off your notifications should be the first step. If you do not do this, it will be extremely difficult to resist the temptation to pick up your phone every time a new notification pops up.
Also, studies show that notifications such as likes, comments, or messages make our brains release dopamine. This dopamine influx can cause addictive feelings, similar to the ones associated with drug use.
3. Put your phone away at night
One mistake people frequently make is always keeping their phone nearby, even at night.
Instead of doing this, try to put it far away from your bed or even in another room. This way, you will be less tempted to scroll on social media before going to sleep or right after you wake up. Not only will you do more beneficial activities before bed, such as reading, but it will also improve the quality of your sleep.
4. Delete social media apps
While it might sound a bit extreme, it is the most straightforward way to prevent yourself from using social media. Of course, you can still use the browser or the desktop to access them, but you have a much higher chance of resisting the temptation if you don’t have the apps on your phone.
Remember that this is just a temporary measure and that these apps can easily be reinstalled again, so there is no need to panic.
Are you ready to take a break from social media? Start today and enjoy the benefits of the offline world. Remember that while it might seem difficult in the beginning, it can make you feel happier and more relaxed in just a few days.
Are you willing to try it? Or have you tried it before? Share your experience in the comments below!
A few years ago, I found myself being “far too online.” It started when I couldn’t focus on anything. I had an urge, whenever my attention wasn’t completely occupied, to take out my phone, and start scrolling my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds.
Like many people, I can’t completely “log off,” because of my job, but I needed to do something. The thoughts in my head weren’t mine anymore — they were viral tweets, or inflammatory arguments I’d read on Facebook.
For the past three years, I’ve taken a break from being “extremely online” during the entire month of December. I have two simple rules:
1. I don’t post to social media.
2. I don’t look at social media.
Now I look forward to December every year. Here’s what I do:
Check to see what my most used apps are
There’s a good way to figure out which apps you spend the most time on if you use an iPhone, though it’s hidden in Settings > Battery. It tells you which apps you’ve spent the most time on to help you understand your battery, but it can also be extremely helpful for identifying which apps you spend too much time on.
For me, the top app I was spending too much time on was Twitter, followed by Instagram. A good rule of thumb is that any app you’re checking or using more than your primary messaging app is one to consider uninstalling.
No more bottomless bowls
These kind of apps even have a nickname, “bottomless bowls.” The term was coined by former Google designer Tristan Harris after a Cornell study that found that people ate way more soup if the bowl was constantly refilled.
That’s basically what’s happening with your feed content. Most of the biggest apps have designed them to deliver a neverending stream of content. Every time you tap on the icon, you get a small bit of satisfaction from seeing new stuff.
“News feeds are purposely designed to auto-refill with reasons to keep you scrolling, and purposely eliminate any reason for you to pause, reconsider or leave,” Harris wrote in the study.
Essentially, you’re putting an all-you-can-eat buffet of low-quality content on your home screen. This year, I zapped Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat.
It’s good a idea to banish all the bottomless bowls on your phone, not just the apps you use the most. The reason: when you remove your favorite apps, you may find yourself gravitating to bottomless bowls you didn’t like before. So even if you’re not a big Twitter user, uninstall that too. Uninstalling the apps will also remove their notifications on both iOS and Android.
Tell people — or don’t
The last thing that you might want to do is to send out a single post explaining what you’re doing — that you won’t be on the site for a while, and that people who normally contact you through social media might want to find other channels.
So on December 1 ever year, I put up a short message telling people about my break. On Twitter, I’ll pin the note to the top of my profile.
However, this is also risky, because your post about quitting social media might get likes or comments, and then that starts the whole cycle of checking notifications and consuming the bottomless bowl again. Plus, it plays into the dynamic that you’re breaking away from to begin with — if something wasn’t posted on social media, did it really happen?
Personally, I think you need to do it because so many of these feeds are now linked to messaging apps, and people may be trying to reach you through Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.
For people you correspond with on a regular basis, it’s easy enough to switch to texting, or iMessage, or Gchat. But people who you don’t know but who want to get in touch still deserve to know why you’re not immediately replying, as you probably would have when you were “extremely online.”
In some years, I’ve also taken the time to delete posts and tweets . That’s an optional step, but it can make it easier to stay away when your page is a pristine, seemingly untouched account.
Of course, it’s always possible to just walk away without doing anything. Your page will still be there when you get back. You might find that nobody online even missed you!
Don’t stress slip-ups
But the key is not to give up — the apps will try to drag you back in. For example, you might have uninstalled the Facebook app, but you might still get sucked onto facebook.com on your phone’s browser.
As long as you are genuinely trying to stay away from social media, I’d recommend not beating yourself over slip-ups. They’ll happen. What’s important is that you’re trying .
The idea behind the “social media cleanse” is to reduce stress — not raise it. So don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself in a bottomless bowl. Just click away as soon as you can.
How did it work out?
Unfortunately, it’s not a panacea. It won’t change your life. But I do find real value in logging off for a month.
The main thing that I personally notice is that I don’t realize how quickly I try to fill my time when I’m waiting in line, or on the subway, or even just on the couch when a commercial comes on TV.
One result is that I shift my time from low-quality stuff into slightly higher quality time on my phone. Instead of Twitter’s nattering nabobs, I listen to interesting podcasts. When waiting in line for coffee, I’ll read the New York Times.
My favorite side-effect is that my ideas are my own. The jokes I’m making with my friends aren’t the memes I saw in a feed earlier. I came up with my own opinions about the Mueller investigation without being influenced by tweets or comments that may have come from foreign governments.
Because I quit social media in December, I do end up missing a number of high-quality valuable posts. Lots of people post year-end messages with family updates, or good wishes for the upcoming year. But one of the great things about algorithmic feeds is that when you log back in, there’s a good chance those messages are floating close to the top, because the services know you missed them. And you’ll value the people who individually reach out to you more.
My break from social media is just that — a break. I started posting again on January 2. I also regrettably went back to old habits like checking Twitter at restaurants. But a month off does reset your relationship with being online. I didn’t reinstall Facebook or YouTube when I returned to social media, for example, and I don’t miss them at all.
And I’m already looking forward to December this year, when I plan to log off once again.
We use it to network with business contacts, keep in touch with friends and family, find and share information, express our opinions and even for entertainment (comedy cat video fans, you know who you are). But there’s evidence to suggest many people who use social media fear they’re addicted to it.
Should you quit?
Quitting social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may have a number of benefits, including the following:
Your mood may improve
Research suggests that the more time you spend on social media, the greater your risk for depression.
You’ll feel less isolated
While you may have hundreds (or possibly thousands) of Facebook friends, if the only time you spend with them (or at least the ones you actually know) is when you’re online, chances are you’ll end up feeling disconnected rather than connected.
You’ll have more self-esteem
Constantly comparing yourself to other people on social media who appear to have the perfect job/relationship/house/body/family is hardly going to be good for your confidence. Indeed, studies have shown people who spend a lot of time on social media experience low self-esteem as well as increased anxiety.
You’ll feel more positive
With so many people using social media as an outlet for their anger and frustrations, there’s a risk all that bad feeling could rub off on you. Getting things off their chests online may help many people feel better, but in reading their comments you could risk absorbing some of their negativity.
You’ll have more free time
Everyone knows how time flies when you’re engrossed in social media. Even when you promise yourself you’ll spend just 5 minutes checking out your Twitter feed, chances are you’ll still be scrolling an hour later.
You’ll be more productive
All that extra free time you could have by quitting social media can be put to good use. Instead of being glued to your smartphone for hours on end, imagine what you could do?
Quitting sounds tempting, doesn’t it? But giving up social media altogether may not be the answer.
Set some boundaries
Instead of swearing off social media for good, there are other, arguably more realistic options. You could for instance make it a rule to stay off social media when you go out to dinner, when you’re spending time with other people or before going to bed and when you’re in bed. You could also give yourself a time and a time limit for checking your social media, for instance 20 minutes at lunchtime and resolve to stick to it.
Give yourself a timeout
But it may be simpler to make a habit of staying off social media for 1 day a week. You could also take things a step further and take a 1-day-a-week break from all your digital devices. Unplugging has become a real trend these days, with many people taking breaks, not just from social media but also from the internet and their smartphones on a regular basis.
At the very least, an entire day away from your computer or smartphone screen each week could help you remember how good life was before you became a slave to those annoying beeps and alerts.
How CABA can help
We’re here whenever you need help, support or information that could help improve your wellbeing. Our services are free for ICAEW members, ACA students and their families.
How often do you reach for the phone first thing in the morning and check your Twitter notifications? How often when you’re on vacation are you more concerned about taking the perfect Instagram picture than enjoying yourself? How often are you locked in an internet argument on Facebook? A social media detox gives us a bit of clarity into this.
The amount of mental energy we give our phones, specifically social media, could be put to much better use.
Social media, in its inception, was harmless fun. Now, it has evolved to be part of our daily lives. It’s how we consume most of our information, and it influences everything from elections to public discourse.
But social media is not real life. As much influence, or seeming influence, it has, it’s a curated and selective sample of what’s actually going on in the world.
Many people are beginning to discover this. There has been a recent trend of people consciously reducing their social media use. Some have even gone full cold turkey and deleted their social media accounts.
However, you don’t need to go cold turkey to experience the benefits of avoiding social media. A social media detox may just be enough for you if you’re experiencing the anxiety and stress that comes with social media use.
What is a social media detox?
A social media detox is a conscious elimination of social media use and consumption for a set period of time. Generally, most social media detoxes are 30 days, but some people do 7 days or even a year-long social media detox.
Ideally, you’re completely eliminating social media use and consumption. This means deleting and removing all social media apps from your phone, and in some cases where it’s possible, temporarily disabling your social media accounts.
Why take a social media detox
If you’re here or you’ve been thinking about taking some time off of social media, you should probably do it, and that should be reason enough.
If you feel like social media has taken over your life, if it preoccupies your mind, or if you find yourself constantly and habitually reaching for your phone, these might be signs that it’s time for a break.
Clear your mind
A social media detox gives you a chance to clear your mind.
We’re sucked into this online world of pretty filters on models and influencers, a friend’s curated version of their life in photos and captions, and news headlines designed to spark an emotional reaction.
This is all a recipe for a disaster when it comes to our mental health. It’s unnecessary clutter, it’s informational junk food, and ultimately most of it is useless to you besides disturbing your tranquility.
Imagine how much better use of your time and mental energy could go into the things you actually care about, or changes you can actually affect on the world. Taking a break from social media gives you a chance to take a step back and really evaluate what’s most important in your life and what is a much better use of your time and mental space.
Take back control of your digital habits
It also gives you back control of your phone and your digital habits. Social media apps and websites are designed to get you addicted to the feedback loops, notifications, likes, and instant gratification it gives you.
Every time you pull down the screen and refresh, hoping for a new notification or Like, you’re pulling down that slot machine arm hoping there’s something new to stimulate you. And when there’s a new Like, Favorite, or Comment, you get a little bit of a dopamine hit.
This is intentional.
These apps and websites have been optimized and iterated on for years by behavior scientists and psychologists hired by these tech companies to keep you engaged with their application.
Why? So you keep coming back and stay on their platform longer. The longer you stay on their platform, and the more you keep coming back, the more ads they can serve you. The more ads they can serve you, the more money they can make from you.
This creates an incentive for these tech companies to optimize their platforms against the spirit of their original intention or mission. It isn’t really about connecting you with people, it’s about keeping you and your brain addicted.
It gets to the point where you’re no longer really in control of your digital habits. It becomes compulsive. You check your feed first thing in the morning, you check it every time you get a notification, and you’re glued to your screen even when you’re trying to spend quality time with real people.
Finally, the last reason to take a social media detox is simply the benefits of taking a break from social media.
Have you ever thought about some of the convincing reasons to take a break from social media? There are millions of people who can’t even fathom the thought of not updating their Facebook status, checking up with friends on Twitter or posting photos on Instagram. As fun and useful as social media is, it can also be quite addicting. If you’ve ever thought about taking a break from it all, consider some of these reasons to take a break from social media to help you decide.
1 It’s a Time Waster
One of the major reasons to take a break from social media is that it sucks up so much of your time! I can’t even count the number of times when I got on Instagram or Twitter and I’m still scrolling an hour later! It’s easy to get sucked into the cutesy pictures of pets, celebrity rants or outfit and diet inspo. It’s just too good to put down sometimes. If you find that your social media habits are impinging on your time at work, school or with family, it might be time for a break.
2 It Gets Annoying
It’s funny how we’re so into Facebook and Twitter, but so many times we come away from it feeling so annoyed! How many times can you read about your friend’s workouts, their meals, their relationship drama or grammatically incorrect quotes on life? If you log on to your social media accounts anticipating feeling irritated about meaningless or exaggerated status updates, why not take a break?!
3 It’s Harmful to Your Self-esteem
Have you ever thought about how social media can affect your self-esteem? Just as there are some friends with annoying status updates, there are others who can’t stop bragging about themselves. If you’re constantly reading about the fabulous lives of your friends, it can start making you feel inadequate. Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself to others and not measuring up? Is it really worth the blow to your self-esteem?
4 Privacy Concerns
As with anything these days, there are concerns with privacy. However, when it comes to social media, this is something you have control over! It’s too easy to overshare online because it feels secure and everyone is doing it. But the truth is, the more you share with others online, the more you’re putting yourself at risk. Once something is online, it can be stuck there forever. Don’t let a Twitter rant or silly Facebook photo affect your personal or professional life!
5 It Fosters Superficial Relationships
Another valid reason to take a break from social media is that it encourages artificial relationships. Do you personally know all of your Facebook friends? Doesn’t the constant stream of status updates and photos from friends make you feel closer to them than you really are? You get to decide what you’re sharing online, so what you’re reading about on social media may very well not be what’s going on in your friends’ lives. Why not really connect with friends through a phone call or visit instead of relying on 140 character updates and statements?
6 It Can Neglect Relationships
While social media certainly has value in helping you stay in touch with people who are far away, I can’t help but think of how it can lead to neglecting the relationships you have in the here and now. How many times have you made plans with friends or family, only to spend the majority of your time looking at social media and updating your statuses? That’s not healthy! Remember to value and take time out for the people in your life!
7 It Can Cause Drama
In my personal opinion, one of the worst things about social media is that it can cause drama. We always run the risk of our statements being misconstrued when they’re written. Also, it’s too easy for Twitter wars and Facebook drama to unfold because it’s so impersonal. People get really brave online when they would never say or do any of those things in reality. Don’t get sucked into unnecessary drama!
As previously mentioned, social media can be a really useful tool to help stay in touch with people, communicate with companies and so on. The problem arises when we spend more time online than we do in real life or it starts messing with our happiness. Be smart about your social media use! What’s the longest break you ever took from social media? Do you think you could ever quit it for good?
I’ll be honest: I love social media about 99 percent of the time. I think it’s such a great way to express yourself creatively, and many social media platforms have helped to create safe communities for marginalized people who might not feel supported in real life. Plus, with photo apps like Instagram, you have access to just about as many puppy photos as you could possibly want. That being said, the benefits of taking a social media break every once in a while are significant enough to make even a die-hard IG fan like me put away my phone for a few days.
Celebs do this all the time — Ariana Grande recently took a quick break from Instagram, and Selena Gomez is also stepping back from social media as of this Monday — and TBH, they might really be on to something. But how long does a social media break need to be in order for you to reap the benefits? According to Dr. Kevin Gilliland, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of Innovation360, it really depends on the person. "[It] will be half a day for some and the weekend for others," he tells Elite Daily. "We need to take a break long enough to realize that most of our cravings for things only actually last a matter of minutes."
But don’t let the time commitment scare you if you need to work up to a longer break. "Any break, even if it’s just an hour, can be helpful," explains licensed mental health counselor Rachel Gersten. While she says a full 24 hours away from social media is ideal, pulling yourself away for even short spurts at a time can have its benefits, too.
To get a better sense of how much you use different apps, I recommend checking out a new feature in the iOS 12.0 update: The new Screen Time report under Settings breaks down exactly how many minutes you spend per day on each app, and even the number of times you pick up your phone. And, let me tell you, I’ve been pretty shocked so far by my own results.
If you do decide to take a social media break, here are some benefits you might notice along the way.
With no Twitter feed to scroll through, you’ll not only have so much more time for
, but the time spent away from social media might also help to create healthy boundaries between your work life and your private life. "Being on social media can remind you of work, specifically if you’re friends with or follow colleagues," says Victoria Merinda, a technology expert at HighSpeedInternet.com. "Taking complete breaks from work can help you be a productive worker and avoid burnout."
Not to be that person who says technology is rotting your brain, but it kind of is, TBH. According to Elizabeth Su, a life coach, mindfulness expert, and certified yoga teacher, taking time away from your phone can get your creative juices flowing. "Your creativity sparks because your imagination can run free when you aren’t mindlessly scrolling," Su tells Elite Daily over email.
Who knows what you’ll do with some time away from IG? You could become the next Rembrandt or your generation’s Toni Morrison.
"[A digital detox] can help you feel present and grounded in your everyday life and reconnect with those around you," Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional counselor, tells Elite Daily over email. The thing is, if you and your partner or friends have been replacing meaningful conversations with social media time, McBain explains, you may be missing out on the intimacy that you could have.
I’m not sure where it originated, but I really love the tip that suggests putting your phones in a pile during a night out with your friends, and having whoever checks social media first pick up the tab. Why not give it a try one night and see how you all feel after the fact?
According to Dr. Gilliland, you might not even realize how much social media is affecting you until you take a break. "We lose perspective on our behaviors, and taking a break helps us to get a measure of it," he tells Elite Daily.
By switching up your routine, Gilliland explains, you get a new chance to evaluate what is and isn’t working in your life. "Basic, I know," he says, "but we need to shuffle things around sometimes, so we get a new dose of self-awareness."
As I’m sure you’ve already realized on your own, people tend to post only the highlight reels of their lives on social media, and as a result, it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to someone else’s, even if the curated lifestyle you’re seeing online is far from what’s actually happening in reality. Dr. Sal Raichbach, a licensed psychologist at Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Elite Daily that distancing yourself from social media apps for a little while can help you steer clear of that compare-and-despair trap.
"You’ll notice less of what other people are showing off, and more of the reality," he says. "When you aren’t searching for that connection and validation online, you naturally start to find it in other ways."
Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether or not you could actually benefit from a social media break. According to Dr. Gilliland, one way to know whether your brain could use some time away from these apps is to ask yourself whether you’re doing the things that are really, truly important to you in life.
"If you’re spending more time watching life than living it," he explains, "it’s time for a break."