Do Social Media Breaks Work?

By Emma Kidger

Whether used for work, school, or for socializing, social media plays a huge role in everyone’s life. However, sometimes the jealousy-sparking and competitive culture of social media is just too much. Especially during the pandemic, the popularity of social media breaks have skyrocketed, but do they even work? 

According to Neha Chaudhar, an adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, there are detrimental phenomenons which are drawn from social media. She notes the small positives of media platforms describing how the opportunity to socialize and stay connected with friends and family through social media can be used to “combat loneliness” which has a very negative influence on one’s well-being. However, on the other hand, social media promotes comparison and jealousy, causing many people to become addicted to the major influences of seeing other peoples day to day lives. Overuse of social media can cause stress, anxiety, and more to the extent of people not knowing when they need to step away because the media has been so forcefully incorporated in their daily habits. People who subscribe to various media platforms, especially teenagers, spend lots of time watching YouTube or scrolling through their Instagram instead of enjoying reality or taking care of themselves in real life. 

Psychologists and medical researchers from the Cleveland Clinic have collected a list of situations when social media becomes toxic and addictive to the point where a break or detox of such platforms are necessary. They begin with the biggest red flag: irritation. If one uses their platforms to the point where they are angry with anything they see, the Cleveland Clinic argues this is a breaking point where social media is just not beneficial. Secondly, Researchers explain if social media platforms aren’t worthwhile or just aren’t fun than the only reason why someone is on it is because of habit. Lastly, one of the biggest signs to detox from your usual platforms is when you habitually go on such a platform right when you wake up and right before you go to bed. A study from the Cleveland Clinic explains how “80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up” stimulating anxiety and stress that jumpstarts a bad day or keeps you awake at night. While social media has it perks, it can always lead to a very stressful and anxiety-ridden mindset encouraging bad habits.

As smartphone users and psychologists know the negative effects social media has, the recurring solution to these issues or ending these bad habits have always led to social media breaks. However, how do you know if a Social Media detox really improves your health or wellbeing? Clinical blogger and M.D. Kristen Fuller clarifies how any type of routine which keeps one away from social media can help reset their mindset and get a grip on reality. Some advice fuller lends to her readers begins with learning to set limits and find boundaries. Whether using a time limit app or self-regulation, limiting one’s use of social media can allow them to spend more time on things they normally wouldn’t do as well as not completely shut off usage of social media perks. Fuller also notes how social media is meant to bring communities together, and argues how social media users need to tap back into socializing in person to keep the plus side of social media still relevant., alongside its psychologists, explain the many benefits of social media breaks—like better sleep, lower stress levels, and  a clearer mindset. 

All things considered, social media breaks do in fact work. Noticing toxic patterns of social media usage and altering these bad habits can definitely improve one’s well being. The next time you scroll on your TikTok ‘for you page’ or binge watch all of your favorite YouTuber’s videos, recognize possible bad habits to improve your attitude and everyday life.