Have you heard of the term “social media detox”? If you watched the new Netflix documentary called “The social dilemma”, probably! I’ve seen it a few weeks ago and loved mostly what the Silicon Valley ex-employees had to say. We are talking about people from Google, Facebook, or Pinterest. They gave an insight into how social media is designed to keep us on them for longer, boost our ego, and wipe out physical interaction.
It is not a secret that social media and the use of phones in general became a kind of addiction for most of us. We all knew that these platforms were watching our behaviour online. However, the truth is that they are also designed to change our behaviour in real life, by influencing our way of thinking for example. There is this saying: “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product”. So, what is my takeaway from this documentary? Basically, switch your phone off from time to time and above all, be mindful of your social media use.
So, out of curiosity, I grabbed my phone and checked my screen time. And… I was astonished! Social media is a big chunk of my screen time. I use Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for this blog, but also Facebook for my personal use. If this sounds like you and you feel like you’re spending too much time on your social media accounts, keep reading. I’ll give you tips to disconnect and live your life without the constant need to look at your phone.
What is a social media detox?
Have you ever heard of a social media detox? The principle is simple: taking a break from your social media account for a set period of time. Ideally, it would mean deleting all social media apps from your phone and even disabling your social media accounts. However, you can set your own rules! This sounds too radical to me, so I’d rather give you tips to reduce the amount of time you spend on electronic devices. Start slow, as you can always increase it over time. Ready? Here are some ways to start a social media detox!
Track your time online
As I was saying before, I checked my screen time after watching “The social dilemma” documentary. This is not a feature on my phone that I use usually so the result was a shock for me. The truth is I spend between 3:30 and 4 hours on my phone EVERY DAY. If you think about it, this becomes around a whole day looking at this screen at the end of the week. In my defense, I spend around one hour a day reading Ebooks on my phone at night, but I still think this is a crazy amount of time! So, the first thing I would suggest in order to start a social media detox is to know exactly how long you are spending on your phone. As you know, it is so easy to just grab your phone, open apps mindlessly, and just losing track of the time.
What to do: If you want to diminish the amount of time on your phone, try to set goals in order to spend less, gradually. For example, start with an hour less every day, and see how you go. Don’t forget to keep track of your progress!
Do you have the impression of being lost without your phone? Do you feel the need of having it with you literally everywhere? I am sure that most of us do. This is a habit that you should be mindful of because the truth is you don’t need your phone with you at all times. For example, keep it away while you eat. You also don’t need it when going shopping or walking your dog. Enjoy the moment without feeling the need to look at that screen. And above all, keep your phone away from your bed. Don’t take it with you at night to scroll on social media until you fall asleep. To sum up: don’t keep your phone next to you all day long!
What to do: During the day, leave your phone in a separate room. Don’t take your phone in bed and place the phone charger in a different room. It will keep you away from scrolling down social media until you fell asleep.
Turn off notifications
Notifications are the thing that attracts us most to our phone. As soon as you hear it ringing, I am sure that you run to check who liked your Instagram story/commented on your last Facebook photo/answered your last tweet. If you turn off the notifications, there is less temptation to look at your phone. Try to think about it: nothing is super urgent that you have to stop what you are doing to look at your social media accounts. I am sure that this can wait until YOU decide to have a look at it. Moreover, constantly checking will decrease your productivity, as you would be constantly interrupted in the middle of a task.
What to do: Turn off your social media accounts notifications and leave only the notifications turned on for important things like calls and messages. Also, take advantage of the flight mode that you could turn on when using your phone for something else (if you are listening to music for example). Most importantly, check your social media account at precise times and put a timer to avoid scrolling endlessly.
You don’t need to be available
Furthermore, you don’t need to be available all the time. You can totally decide when you are ready to respond to someone or answer on social media. If you are busy and your friend is calling for a chit chat, don’t feel pressured to answer right away. I am pretty sure the conversation can wait until you are fully available. You will also be more mindful of the talk if you are deciding to take the time for it, rather than answering when you are doing something else at the same time. Don’t beat yourself up: it is fine to not be available all the time.
What to do: If you want to answer calls right away for people important to you (your partner or kids for example), set a specific ringtone for them. Even if your phone is in a separate room, you’ll be able to hear it and pick up that call.
This will sound old school! Our phone became such an important object that we use it for everything: to take pictures, as an alarm clock in the morning, to take notes and set up reminders in our calendar, to read ebooks, and so on… Of course, this is practical. But it is also more tempting to check your Instagram feed after you wrote your next dentist appointment. So, why not buy a basic alarm clock to wake you up in the morning? Why not get a proper camera for your next trip? Why not having an actual notebook or calendar where you can write down (for real) your important tasks? For example, my phone is useful whenever I need to note something that comes to my mind. However, I mostly use notebooks and printables at home for everything I need to write down.
What to do: Think about how you would do the same things without your phone and try to replace it.
Be mindful of others
As much you don’t need to available all the time, be mindful of people around you. Try to stop using your phone when you are not alone. Give priority to the people around you. For example, if you are having a conversation with your partner, put down your phone, and focus on him/her. When you are meeting with your friends, try to put your phone away, or leave it in your handbag. You could even make it a rule: the first person to touch their phone will pay a forfeit!
What to do: Make real-life interactions a priority!
When should you start a social media detox?
As you know, a phone is useful in our everyday life. However, it can become an addiction. If you look around you, chances are all you see is people on their phones: in public transport, in a coffee shop, even at the gym. We are on our phone constantly, but since everyone is doing it, it doesn’t seem as bad or problematic as other addictions. If you think you are spending way to much time on your phone every day, maybe it is time to start a social media detox!