6 Reasons Students Should Take a Social Media Detox

The average person will spend over five years of their lives on social media. That is more time than we accumulate in the following major categories throughout our lifetimes: socializing with others, doing laundry, eating and drinking, and grooming ourselves.

And for today's students, that divide is even worse (and growing), as we spend more and more time on social media. Students and young people make up Generation Z, a powerful, attractive, and evolving consumer group, that has lived their whole lives with a smartphone in hand.

With so much of our days lost in popular platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, we have a duty to understand both the positive and negative effects of our, at this point, addictions.

Are we happier people with social media? Is social media actually improving our lives? Why is it so addicting in the first place?

The answers to these questions vary depending on who you ask. For most people, however, you will find a single common thread: “I cannot imagine life without my social media accounts.” We have become so attached to our phones and digital lifestyles that we have no idea what it is like to go without them.

While it can be a real struggle, deleting all of your favorite (and most addicting) social media platforms from your phone can be a truly enlightening experience. Even in just a few weeks of this experiment, you learn a ton - not only about yourself, but also about your friendships and the world around you.

Not yet convinced? Here are 6 reasons why you should take a social media detox:

1. Free time.

The clearest and most obvious benefit of ridding social media from your devices is the incredible amount of time you will get back in your day. Imagine what you could do with 3-4 more hours a day!

2. Competition.

On social media, everything is a competition. We are are all battling amongst each other for the attention and validation of our friends and followers. We go to extreme, and somewhat irrational lengths, to snap the perfect angle and optimize the number of likes we may get. But for what?

When you delete social media, you realize how much of your days' actions are externally motivated - by the desire to be more popular than your friends and get more attention. This shift in mindset can help you become more self-aware as a person.

3. Be present.

When we spend such a significant portion of our days glued to a phone screen, we miss out on many of life's simple, yet nuanced and beautiful moments. We have become so obsessed with posting the perfect picture and coming up with the best tweet, that we often forget to take a moment and appreciate the view right in front of us.

Being present, without the distraction of social media, helps you think clearer and consider the little parts of life that make it so special.

4. Privacy.

While social media enables you to start new, fun conversations and gives you access to your friends' latest updates, it can also put your personal privacy at risk. If you are not careful with reading terms of service policies, you can end up unknowingly authorizing your data to be sold to private companies for advertising.

If you do not want platforms like Facebook and Snapchat to have access to your GPS, personal phone number, etc. - then just delete the applications from your phone. Though doing this will not completely protect your information, it is a good first step towards guarding your details.

5. No more FOMO.

Social media, at its core, is a window into other people's lives where you can see who they are with, where they are going, and what they are doing. Given such access, it makes sense that many of us feel jealous when we log into platforms and see our friends doing really fun and exciting things without us.

This feeling actually has a name, and it is called FOMO (the fear of missing out). It is actually one of the largest drivers of anxiety among teenagers and young adults. FOMO has created a constantly running loop, where our potential for jealousy forces us to repeatedly open and scroll through social media to make sure we have not been left out of any fun event or activity. This unhealthy habit is unsustainable, as it takes away our ability to live in the moment.

6. Echo chamber.

Social media, in many circles, has become an echo chamber of political ideologies and advertisements trying to get your attention. You cannot spend more than ten minutes browsing social media without seeing some sort of political argument taking place. The problem is not that people are using social media as a platform for political discourse, but rather the presence of single sided opinions has created an echo chamber of ideas that falsely validate one another.

This type of behavior, over time, reinforces arguments rooted in emotion, rather than verifiable facts and evidence. On a macro scale, echo chambers on social media breed hate against groups and make it hard for us to empathize with those outside of our bubbles.

Written by Agnes W. November 7th, 2017