Within recent years, social media has taken a forefront in sending and receiving information and news to people throughout the world. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and multiple other sites are based on instant communication between the user, their friends, and websites. During a five minute check, a person can find out what ten of their friends are currently doing, what is happening in China, and any changes in today’s weather. Using social media does have both positive and negative benefits. One good impact is the ability to connect with people who live miles away, as well as receive news and information instantly. However, social media has also been linked to depression, anxiety, unrealistic expectations, and creating the fear of being left out and not knowing what is going on in the world around you.
Did you know that according to recent studies, an average person spends about 145 minutes (almost 2 ½ hours) on social media per day? Looking at my own habits, I spend way too much time on social media. Scrolling through the latest news to see what everyone is doing and what is going on in the world. I know I am probably not alone in this confession.
As people are making their New Year’s resolutions, one may be common on many people’s lists – spending less time on social media. Over the last few months, I have tried to be on social media or my phone less. There are days I come home in the afternoon and don’t touch my phone for several hours until I go to bed. These opportunities of putting my phone away and unplugging for a little bit are freeing and relaxing. You don’t feel as if you are obligated to check the various sites or your device. This habit can take a little while to get used to, but is very much worth it. In addition, the small practice of taking time away from social media can be expanded into a whole day, week, or month. Let me introduce to you the Social Media Detox Challenge.
During this challenge, the goal is simple – spend less time on social media. But how? There are many ways to break your habit, including these:
First, it is important to be aware of just how much time you spend on social media. There are apps available to track your usage per social media site or usage in general. Your phone’s settings may also have a screen time tracker. For my iPhone, I can see my screen time on a daily and weekly basis. This feature breaks down the time I spend on various apps and their overall categories, such as social, entertainment, etc. After seeing your screen time, identify which apps are used the most and why you are using them. Is it for entertainment? Is it for organization or something else? Once you have done this research, create a time limit goal. Maybe you would like to cut down the time to only two hours per week.
Cell phone settings should include time limit features that will turn off apps once the usage time is up. Set a timeframe for when you’ll be on social media during the day that works best with your schedule, such as 10 am to 7 pm. Once the deadline comes, social media is no longer available until the next day. Don’t forget about your notifications, mute or unfollow buttons on the social media sites themselves to adjust what you see and may be attracted to or that takes up your attention. I don’t have any notifications turned on for any of the social media sites I use and this trick has helped me resist the urge to jump on my phone whenever a notification appears.
Another tip is to change up the location of where you place your phone and the location of your apps on the phone itself. We often find ourselves looking at the sites without even realizing it. Switch things up and place your most used sites on the last page of your phone. You could also physically move your device to a room on the opposite end of the house.
The Social Media Detox Challenge can be hard to adjust to at first, but once you get fully into it, you will be surprised at just how much extra time you have. Also, you will find yourself quickly filling up those moments with activities that leave you feeling more satisfied and happier than just scrolling through social media.