social media detox
Illustration by Sandra Hernandez, Ringling College of Art & Design)

The 7 Benefits of Taking a Social Media Detox

Social media has become a way of life for most people, but taking time to get away from media platforms has a few positives.

The amount of individuals who use social media continues to grow as more apps are created, more news circulates, and the need to know anything and everything at the tip of our fingertips increases.

On average, a person between 18 – 24 spends 1½ – 2 hours scrolling, tagging and sharing on social media. From a 2015 study, it shows that over the course of a day, that same person will check their phone around 75 times.

Social media, like everything, needs to be taken with stride and balance to keep from taking over someone’s life. It’s not easy to give up the favorite social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and cutting them off cold turkey isn’t likely to go over well, but taking a social media detox for even a weekend has some significant benefits.

1. Gain a lot of free time

Over the course of a week, 1½ – 2 hours a day can add up. What are those few hours a day doing for you? By putting your social media habits aside, you’ll gain more free time to do tasks that will help you. It’s no secret that social media tends to distract you from work or family or other general actions that can better your life.

Take 30 minutes of that time spent online to take a walk to better your body or read a book to better your mind. Take a social media detox and use those 1½ – 2 hours to get ahead in your day. You’ll feel better afterward when you do.

2. Begin living in the moment

Platforms like Instagram want you to take pictures of anything and everything as you go about your day and post it for all to see. Twitter makes it easy for you to tweet about anything exciting or maddening to your followers.

No matter what it is, social media gives you the ability to post at any moment in time for any reason you can think of. There are even instances of people tweeting after just saying ‘I Do’ at the altar.

There’s nothing wrong with documenting your life online. It’s a great way to share with friends and family who aren’t nearby, and if you ever want to see the memory for yourself after a few years, it’s there for you to do so. That being said, you don’t want to post so much that you replace the post with what’s happening before you.

Taking pictures of your vacation is great. Everyone loves a good postcard image, but don’t live behind the lens that social media has created. Step out from them and live that postable moment in real time.

3. Reconnect with the real world

Talking with thousands of people online is easy, but do you find yourself socially awkward in front of a dozen people in-person? No matter how strong an introvert you are, in-person human contact is necessary to keep from feeling lonely and isolated when you’re away from the screens. Stepping out into the real world can keep you grounded and lets you acknowledge the very real and very good things that are right in front of you.

4. Break the social comparison cycle

It’s no secret that humans compare themselves to others all the time, and social media increases that tenfold. Between the verified accounts of every fashion-forward model and celebrity that’s worth the name and frienemies that you still want to keep tabs on, there’s no shortage of possible comparisons that can be made. Self-esteem issues have increased highly as more social media platforms are created.

Just because everyone you know or follow is doing something big and grand with his or her life doesn’t mean that everything about it is as great as it seems. Don’t compare all of your life to the few glimpses that others let you see. Most posts are selective to create the perfect fantasy picture.

5. Protect your privacy

One of the constant worries about social media outlets is the amount of information that they acquire from those who use them. Email addresses and phone numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. With every new account or downloaded app, both websites and hackers have more opportunities to gain data from you that you might want to keep private.

6. Conquer your fear of missing out

Sugar is well known to be more addictive and harder to give up than cocaine. The same can be said about social media and the way that it’s engineered. If you take a social media detox, don’t be surprised if within a few hours you have a sense of withdrawal. This comes from your fear of missing out. You’re not able to see the post about your best friend’s roommate’s therapy pig anymore.

7. Step away from the negative

Some sections of social media are great for lifting your mood. Those are the pages and accounts full of pygmy goats in pajamas, three-step how-to cooking videos, and realizing that you’re not the only one in your high school graduating class that hasn’t moved out of your parent’s house. But as you know, there’s much more that circulates on social media.

Both harmful content and people pop up on the regular online, and there’s little way to steer clear of it. Unfollowing can only go so far. In a world where almost everything is up for debate, people are bound to share their thoughts and opinions whether they’re asked for them or not. What’s the best way to stop them from bombarding you? Walk away from it.

Selena Lundy, Grand Valley State University

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Selena Lundy

Grand Valley State University

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