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Do You Need a Digital Detox?

By Ava Wygant

Social media was originally an online platform where individuals could connect and share photos and moments with friends and family. Over the past decade, it has become a source of consistent distraction and mental health issues for myself and many others in my generation. Whether it be doom-scrolling or comparing yourself to others online, taking the first step and #UNLITTERING your screen time with a break from these apps will serve you in more ways than you could guess.  

A phone with the time limit reached screen up

About a month ago, my three friends and I were lounging in our living room, casually chatting about our daily routines. As we exchanged stories, a common theme emerged: social media dominated our lives in a concerning way. It had become an ingrained part of our daily rituals—complete a homework assignment, check Instagram; get home from class, take a break by scrolling feeds. We were caught in the cycle of doom scrolling, and for me, I was craving scrolling like pizza after a night out…maybe even more. 

A phone with instagram open

My dopamine levels were shot, leaving me feeling unproductive and sluggish. We knew we needed a change and decided to challenge ourselves to a one-week hiatus from Instagram and TikTok. Though a week may not sound like much, it felt extremely daunting given how deeply we had fallen down the social media rabbit hole. We all agreed to the challenge and decided that whoever went on social media before the deadline would have to buy everyone else their snack of choice - pretty motivating right?

The overall experience was a mixed bag. Some days were tougher than others, and we all undeniably battled the temptation to scroll. I felt antsy the first few days, however, to my surprise, I didn’t miss it as much as I had anticipated. Maybe this was because it was a group activity and we were all in it together, but it was less uncomfortable than I imagined. 

Phone screen with delete app open

To mitigate the abrupt transition of deleting these apps, we created a group chat where we shared pictures and daily highlights. This way, we could still enjoy content and replicate the experience of looking at posts on social media. This may sound extreme, but it was a fun part of the challenge and an easy way to support each other when we were feeling unmotivated. We all coped in different ways, some more productive than others; I spent most of my screen time on Depop, which some may consider cheating as it still involves scrolling. Others relied on Pinterest and some started reading the news as a replacement. This break was #UNLITTERING our minds, even if it wasn’t immediately apparent.

After a few days, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything online and it honestly felt relaxing to be so separate from the online world.

Fast forward, and we were all successfully one-week social media-free! We had anticipated returning to our scrolling habits at the one-week mark, yet after some reflection, we couldn’t deny the new benefits. We all noticed positive changes in our mood, productivity, and clarity, and ultimately, none of us felt the urge to reinstall the apps after the challenge. 

The difference in how I felt after the week was day and night. My brain fog was gone, I was so much more productive, and I was more present. My days were more memorable and I wasn’t so sluggish, let alone much less anxious. 

"We had anticipated returning to our scrolling habits at the one-week mark, yet after some reflection, we couldn’t deny the new benefits. "

Don't get me wrong, I still had the urge to scroll at times, but overall I felt better mentally. The benefits of a digital detox are loud and clear and studies have shown improvements in mental health from reduced screen time. 

Being mindful of your time spent on social media is important. It’s easy to get lost in the endless stimulation and too much can be damaging to your mental health and productivity. Many people feel anxious about missing what their friends are posting or being out of the loop, and while this is a valid and common anxiety, I believe the mental benefits outweigh any momentary FOMO. 

The world is right in front of you and this summer is the perfect time to challenge yourself and try to unplug!

The sun setting at a beach

As summer is approaching, find the opportunity to get outside and try to leave the life in your phone behind. The world is right in front of you and this summer is the perfect time to challenge yourself and try to unplug! If you don't want to take the leap alone, try and delete social media with a group of friends! Having a support group to struggle alongside can be motivating to stay strong and hold each other accountable. Whether it be for a week, a month, or the rest of your summer, delete social media and #UNLITTERyourmind because you will notice a positive difference in your mental health. As addicted to my phone as I was, it has been ultimately so freeing for me to see that I can not only live but thrive and grow without the underlying stress that my social media consumption created. 

Images courtesy of Ava Wygant and Unsplash

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1 Comment

Jun 13

Love this! I am going to schedule a week to try it. Thanks for sharing your experience - it was inspiring!

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