When I was bored, I would click on Facebook. When I felt lonely, I would click on Instagram. When I was stuck even in the smallest time frames, I would go on social media scrolling through posts and news. When I realized I spent an average of three hours per day on my phone on social media, I knew something had to change.
I am like most young adults with social media profiles trying to keep with the latest news and stay up to date with what is going on in pop culture. I was taking a health and the media class during winter session at the University of Delaware when I made the push to have a social media detox. In the class, we learned how to deconstruct media and about the positive and negative health impacts of using social media. As I used my critical thinking skills, I became more conscious of social media’s influence on me; from the people I followed and the pages that I liked, it shaped another reality — an entertainment reality.
As the class went on and I was more aware of the media messages that flickered past my eyes, I decided to download an app called “Moment” (go figure) to track how much time I spent on my phone. And to no one’s surprise I averaged four hours a day. I was in denial that I used my phone that often. All of those quick checks that I did when I was getting ready for the day, waiting for the bus, procrastinating from getting work done; they all added up.
Through all of this, I began to question what it was that I was really using for. Was it a short high from the instant gratification of “like,” an escape from the stress of the day, or to feel more included? As I came to more fully realize that most people display their “best” and most exciting versions of themselves on these social media platforms, I figured out the reasons were to boost the self-conception of myself.
Even though there is a multitude of health benefits from social media, I personally found that by using it, I had lower self-esteem, anxiety due to my need to check it constantly, and depressive symptoms. I was comparing my life to others and had anxiety to keep up with the latest and greatest viral video or what someone had to say on Twitter. In addition, it took me away from being present and destroyed my productivity.
In delving deeper into what intrinsically made me so attached to social media, I was able to detach the negative mental health symptoms I was having. I deleted the all the apps off of my phone and made a restriction on my laptop for Facebook use. Ultimately, I was able to cut it down to 20 minutes a day. By cutting out the time I was using social media, I was able to do more of the activities I enjoyed, like running and playing piano. It did take some time to make the change, but now I feel more productive, more aware, and more fulfilled in what I am doing.