A Social Media Detox Might be a Good Idea


This student is using Instagram, one of the most popular social media applications. While the main purpose is posting and looking at people’s pictures, you can also communicate with people through the app. Photo by Alex Maisenhelder

Trey Williams, Staff Writer

Social media has become a backbone of social interaction. According to the Pew Research Center in 2016, over 70% of teens are on at least two social media services. When people meet each other, people have transitioned from exchanging phone numbers to exchanging social media information. While not everybody is on social media, it is not hard to see its impact. Like all new forms of entertainment, social media has received a fair share of backlash. What are some of the cons of social media usage? Is it worth taking some time away from social media?

Studies have shown excessive usage of social media can lead to a variety of side effects. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, a staggering 42% of teenagers say they feel anxious when they do not have access to their cell phone, and over half of teenagers say they have taken steps to reduce their screen time. Feelings like anxiety, loneliness, or even sadness effect over half of teenagers when cell phone usage is taken away. This suggests that cell phone addiction, as silly as it sounds, is a real thing. If this is true, what can people do about it?

While a simple solution to some may be to just never leave your cell phone, there are more effective solutions. A study published to the journal “Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking” suggests that taking a break from social media for a week may lead to benefits like increased life satisfaction and more positive emotions. Taking a break from social media, according to the study, may help boost your mood. However, a week long break was the only duration of time tested.

A week for many can be a long time. There are other ways to help mitigate the negative effects of social media usage than not using social media. According to the same Pew Research Center survey, the negative effects associated with cell phone usage were not as dramatic to those who spent less time online. This suggests that a total detox is not necessary to gain at least some positive effect. If you could never see yourself taking a week long break from social media and other cell phone usage that does not mean you are doomed to the negative effects. Spending less time on social media might have a positive effect on mental and emotional health.

The issue of cell phone and social media addiction is not as simple as it seems. An important detail that the hit pieces against social media do not account for is the actual importance social media has in teenagers’ lives. For many, social media and other cell phone usage is the primary way people talk to their friends. While it may be simple for someone who mostly communicates with friends in person or with an occasional phone call to say that social media is detrimental to young people, the issue is more complicated than that. A cell phone is not like a drug, it has actual practical use other than entertainment. Many young people have become reliant on social media for communicating with their friends, making it far more difficult for young people to limit time on social media than older people. Social media has transformed the way people interact with each other forever.

Whether or not this is a good thing has become irrelevant. We are so far in the social media direction that it is not something that can just be erased. Instead, awareness needs to be spread surrounding the negative effects so that people can act accordingly. A social media detox might be a good for emotional health every once in a while. However, it is a challenging task, especially considering that many people have spent years straight with the comfort of social media. Either decision has a fair share of consequences. In the end, it is only up to you to decide if a temporary detox would be worth it.