5 Ways to Take a Break from Social Media
By Donna Brooks
(Third in a series on Social Media)
When Apple first rolled out “Screen Time”—a feature on the iPhone that lets you know how much time you spend on apps—I was shocked by how much time each day I spent on social media. I am talking hours, and that just can’t be healthy.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many great reasons to be on social media. It’s allowed me to be in touch with high school and college friends who I might not have seen or heard from again otherwise. I also like seeing funny memes and videos, not to mention all the cute dog photos.
But there are many downsides to social media too: the seemingly endless political posts (can’t we all just get along?), the hurtful and often profane comments people post on just about everything, and, of course, FOMO—the fear of missing out. Recent research has found that social media can make people feel anxious, depressed and lonely. Isn’t it ironic that something that is called “social” can make you feel lonely?
But there is good news. A recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that limiting time on social media decreases loneliness and depression and leads to significant improvement in well-being.
So I decided to do an experiment of my own. I fasted from social media for one weekend. I didn’t post anything or even look at any of my social media apps from Friday afternoon until Monday morning. And guess what? I really didn’t miss it. I felt like I had more time to do other, more constructive things, like reading or taking a walk or getting caught up on housework. It also allowed for more face-to-face conversation with my family, and I wasn’t constantly picking up my phone during meals (something my daughter rightly chastises me for). I felt less anxious too. I liked the social media fast so much that I did it again another weekend with the same results, and it’s something that I will probably continue to do on a regular basis.
If you’re like me and you feel like you need a digital detox, here are a few easy, common-sense tips on how to do it:
1. Put your phone in another room, so you don’t feel tempted to pick it up.
2. Turn off all of your social media notifications.
3. Use a screen tracker app that will help you control how much time you spend on your phone. There are several you can choose from in your phone’s app store.
4. Remove social media apps from your phone altogether. When I first signed on to Facebook 10 years ago, I didn’t have a smartphone. I had to check Facebook on a desktop computer, which was not convenient at all. So, I probably only looked at Facebook once a day at the most.
Try it for a weekend. I think you will be amazed at how much time you will get back by not going down the social media rabbit hole. I know I was. Now where did I leave my phone?
Donna Brooks is communications coordinator at LowCountry Community Church and a freelance writer and editor. When not checking her social media accounts, she is an avid runner, reader, photographer and traveler.
Did you miss the last blog post in this series?