A lot of people spend hours on their smartphones, especially since you can do a lot of things on them: you can pay your bills, track packages, order food or keep up with family and friends.
But according to a study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, spending at least one week off of social media can help improve your well-being.
Earlier studies have found conflicting data about the benefits and adverse effects of social media. Some reports have disputed claims that social media is addictive, especially for children, but others have listed at least 50 harmful effects of constantly browsing these online platforms.
Results of the recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bath revealed that avoiding social media platforms for one week significantly improved a person’s well-being and also lowered levels of both anxiety and depression.
Smartphones and mental health
Researchers reported that social media users can sometimes spend up to nine hours on their preferred platforms in one week. For some people, this means spending a lot of time just endlessly scrolling through apps like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter.
For the study, researchers gathered 154 people aged 18 to 72 who all use social media daily to learn more about what happens when someone “detoxes” from social media. On average, the participants spent at least eight hours a week browsing different social platforms.
After one week of normal use, the volunteers were divided into two groups: One that continued using social media and another that tried to avoid any social media use for one week.
Those in the no-social media group still spent an average of 21 minutes online or roughly three minutes a day on social media. The control group, meanwhile, spent an average of seven hours on social media for the duration of the study.
Compared to mental health scores tallied at the start of the study, results revealed that avoiding social media for one week resulted in significant improvements in each volunteer’s well-being, regardless of age. They also displayed “noticeable drops in anxiety and depression.”
The scientists shared that they wish to expand the project to find out how going on a social media detox for a longer period of time can affect long-term mental health scores. (Related: The link between social media and depression: How to care for your mental health.)
In a university release Dr. Jeff Lamber, the study’s lead researcher, explained that scrolling social media is so common that many people do it “almost without thinking” from morning until night. Social media is a constant presence in the lives of many people, but there are increasing concerns about its adverse effects on mental health.
Through this study, the researchers wanted to see if asking people to take a one-week social media detox can offer benefits for their mental health. A lot of the volunteers “reported positive effects from being off social media with improved mood and less anxiety overall.”
This suggests that even just a small break can have an impact,” concluded Lambert.
Tips for an effective social media detox
If the study has sparked an interest in going on a social media detox yourself, here are some tips to help you get started:
Tell people you’re going on a social media detox
You’re telling people you’ll be offline not to feel superior, but to let them know that you’ll be unreachable. This ensures that they know you’re trying to improve your mental health, not ignore their messages.
As a bonus, it can help keep you accountable. If you’re back online after several hours or days, the people you told can help call you out on it so you stick with the detox.
Delete the apps and block the websites
For your detox to succeed, you need to delete the social media apps from your mobile devices, especially your phone.
For this to work, you have to disconnect completely. If that seems too hard or impossible, try a shorter detox. Instead of going offline for one month, try doing it for one week.
You can also install an app or tool on your computer that can block out social media websites for you. This isn’t necessary, but it can help since you might be tempted to check social media on your computer or laptop if you don’t have the apps on your phone.
If you’re struggling despite deleting the apps, ask a trusted family member or friend to change the passwords to your accounts. Tell them to only give them to you after your detox is over.
Think of what you’re going to do during your detox
Finally, plan what you will do during your detox and make an effort to fill your time with the things on your list.
You’ll eventually realize that you have more time once you stop scrolling mindlessly on social media. However, it’s best to replace your social media habit with something that doesn’t involve technology.
Here are some suggestions on what you can do instead of checking your social media accounts:
- Spending time with friends and family
- Learning something new, like a new language, hobby, or skill
- Working on a side project or business
- Exercising, going to the gym or trying yoga
If you’re feeling bored, meditate and practice mindfulness.
If being on social media is stressing you out or causing anxiety and triggering your depression, go on a social media detox. Go offline for at least one week or more to improve your mental health.
Watch the video below to know about 10 ways to improve your mental well-being.
This video is from the aakash channel on Brighteon.com.