National Runaway Safeline

Back-to-school season is here and for many, this means busier schedules. Despite the added stress that some experience, it is essential that we all continue to find time to care for our physical and mental wellness. One effective way to prioritize our wellness can be to take a short break from the internet and distance ourselves from the world of social media.

It is no secret that social media continues to grow more prevalent in all of our lives in a myriad of ways. However, it is imperative that we regularly make efforts to take a step back from our screens and reconnect with the world around us. A 2018 study by social and clinical psychology researchers found that building limitations and boundaries around the use of social media can:

  • Improve sleep
  • Increase in-person interactions and decrease loneliness
  • Increase free time in your day
  • Decrease anxiety and depression
  • Encourage bonding with loved ones
  • Increase productivity
  • Create higher self-esteem

More specifically, as young people shift their focus to academics, relationships, sports, and other responsibilities associated with the beginning of the academic year, it can also be beneficial to take time to prioritize relaxation, stepping away from and leaving behind other factors that may cause unnecessary stress—such as social media. While social media can be a safe haven for those looking to build online connections, it can also lead some to compare themselves to those they see, creating worry and anxiety that may lead to a decline in happiness and self-image.

Individuals of all ages begin to sacrifice hobbies they love and relationships with those around them when they become overly consumed in social media. Making an effort to detach from social media encourages more IRL activities such as connecting with the outdoors, visiting family and friends more often, and becoming more connected with the world we live in more broadly.

If you are considering a social media break and the above benefits seem enticing to you, here are a few tips and tricks to go about it in a realistic way for both you and those around you:

  • Begin your first detox when there are other things to distract you and keep you busy, such as starting school, a new club, or a job.
  • Inform your friends and family of your plan so they are not worried about your inactivity, and so they can support your goals.
  • Use silent mode and Do Not Disturb on your electronics in order to enforce a disconnect.
  • Remind yourself that you do not need to be available to others at all times of the day.
  • Turn off notifications on apps that you may be most interested in checking often.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have setbacks, as this can be a hard task for many.

Social media should be fun and a positive addition to your life. It should not cause harm or unhealthy mindsets. Taking a social media detox and returning to it when YOU feel ready may benefit your mental health in the long-run.

Remember, if you are struggling you can always contact the National Runaway Safeline to speak to a live, trained, non-judgmental and compassionate crisis service member. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY or visit 1800RUNAWAY.org to chat, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

Special thank you to Caroline Cummins from Colgate University for the collaboration on this blog!

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