If you’re a digital marketer, it’s hard to imagine a day spent without social media, even before you arrive at your desk for work.
Think about it. We wake up and immediately check our social media accounts before even getting out of bed, read headlines and trending topics during our commute, and tweet our latest blog posts by the time we arrive at the office.
We schedule posts for the week ahead, film a Facebook Live interview, and report on our engagement analytics, all while keeping an eye on comments and direct messages coming in on Twitter and Facebook. We take an Instagram of our coffee art, record a Snapchat Story of our commute home, and finally sit down at home to catch up on what’s going on on our personal feeds while we eat dinner and watch television.
Sound familiar? The average user spends almost two hours per day on social media, and it’s safe to assume digital marketers spend even more time than that. This raises an important question: Is there ever a good time to take a break from social media?
We get it, this is your job. And we’re not going to suggest that you abandon your brand’s social media content calendar. In fact, please don’t. But in light of the new year, some of our readers might be considering taking a break from their personal social media profiles as part of their resolutions. We’ll dive into reasons you might take a break from social media and how to cut back on some of your social networking to strike a healthier balance.
How Excessive Social Media Activity Can Affect Your Health
In 2016, social media captured 30% of all time spent online. What’s more, a staggering 80% of social media time is spent on mobile devices. Let’s dive into how spending too much time on social media can start to affect your health.
It messes with your sleep.
Excessive exposure to screens can adversely impact the quality and duration of our sleep, especially if screens are used before bed. More specifically, exposure to short-wavelength blue light that’s emitted from tablets, computers, phones, LED lights, and the sun before bed can reduce REM sleep, lessen morning alertness, and increase the time it takes to fall asleep. In the long term, these effects can lead to insomnia and chronic sleep deficiency, which can increase the risk of persistent health issues and some cancers.
Taking a hiatus from social media would reduce time spent looking at screens on mobile devices, which could help alleviate any of the symptoms and health conditions above.
It impacts your mental and emotional wellness.
A break from social media could improve mental wellness, too. SELF Magazine asked the experts if quitting social media had any health benefits. Their answers were varied, but many agreed: Excessive social media use is sometimes linked to loneliness, social anxiety, mood disorders, and depression.
A study from the University of Houston recently linked excessive social media use with depression as a result of social comparison -- you know, the feeling when you see what your friends are up to on social media and immediately start comparing yourself to them? As it turns out, feeling jealous or competitive about a former classmate’s promotion or wedding can negatively impact your mood.
It gives you FOMO.
Fear of missing out (FOMO) can be exacerbated if you’re spending a lot of time seeing what other people are doing on social media. But taking a social media break could force you to rely on other modes of communicating with friends that might be more fulfilling, such as chatting on the phone or meeting up in person.
Research shows that some Facebook users believe that their friends lead better, happier lives than they do, so try to bear in mind that people share what they want others to see on social media. Photos and statuses of your friends looking their best at a fun event most likely aren't indicators that their life is better than yours. It’s important to maintain perspective when scrolling through social media, and if curated, edited content on social impacts your real-life feelings, it could be time for a break.
Our advice? Take stock of how you’re relating to your digital social networks. If you feel comfortable with the amount of time and energy you’re spending on your personal social media accounts, then carry on. If you find yourself staying up late at night checking your feeds, or you’re feeling stressed out by FOMO, taking a short break could be beneficial. You can download time-tracking software to get a breakdown of how much time you spend on different sites, too.
How to Detox From Social Media Without Deleting Your Account
If you think you want a break from your personal social media, here’s our advice:
1) Designate technology-free times.
If you’re feeling burnt out by overexposure to social media, and perhaps to the internet in general, designate time to completely unplug. Maybe it’s for a few hours before bed each night, or maybe it’s during the morning when you don’t have to work online. And when you do step away from the screens, make note of how you feel during that time, and afterwards. Are you less stressed?
A study conducted by the University of Maryland found that students who unplugged from all technology for just one day experienced greater focus and better quality of life. Dr. John Swartzberg warns that unplugging isn’t simple a cure-all for happiness, though. The key is to replace time spent on social media and technology with other beneficial things.
“Unplugging by itself probably won’t work some magic in your life,” Swartzberg notes. “But if you spend that digital-free time focusing on your relationships and activities you enjoy, now that can make your life better.”
2) Set social media time limits for yourself.
Along the same lines as technology-free times, try setting time limits on your personal social media use.
If you need some help committing to those limitations, you can lean on a productivity tool -- such as StayFocusd -- to restrict the amount of time you spend on websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. But before you embark on setting limits for yourself, make sure your goal is realistic. Over the course of a typical weekday, keep a written log of every time you check social media, and if it’s for work or personal reasons. You may be using it a lot more than you think, so make sure your time limits are feasible for you to achieve.
3) Prioritize other activities, hobbies, and passions.
In an article for ThinkGrowth.org, Dr. Nicole Lipkin suggests that you stop making New Year’s resolutions based on the desire to stop a bad behavior. Instead, she says resolutions have better results when they’re framed in terms of what the individual stands to gain. What activities or hobbies would you have more time for if you re-dedicated the time you spend social networking?
Instead of framing it as a social media break, you’re more likely to stick to a resolution if you’re working toward something you want, versus taking something away. Some hobbies even boost brain cognition and memory retention. Try out reading, learning a new language, or sticking to an exercise routine to replace the time you’d normally spend on social media to make your detox extra productive.
4) Turn off mobile notifications.
Because the vast majority of social media networking now takes place on mobile devices, a simple way to discourage checking your feeds over and over might be turning off mobile notifications. If you aren’t constantly notified about what’s going on online, you might be less inclined to check it on your phone so often. Navigate to your phone’s settings and choose how you hear from social media apps on your phone to take a break (indirectly, at least).
How to turn off mobile app notifications for iPhone:
Navigate to your Settings menu, tap Notifications, select the social media app from the menu, and slide the button to the left to disable mobile notifications.
How to turn off mobile app notifications for Android:
Navigate to your Settings menu, where you’ll select Sound and Notification, then App Notifications. From there, select the social media app from the menu, and slide the Block button to the left to disable mobile notifications.
Source: Make Use Of
If you’re ready to unplug, we’ll be here with information on the latest news in social media when you get back. If this article didn’t speak to you and you want to dive deeper, listen to these podcasts filled with ideas for taking your social strategy to the next level.
Will you be taking a social media cleanse? Share with us in the comments below.
Originally published Jan 18, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated June 10 2021