I recently took a break from social media. It literally meant deleting the apps from my phone and not allowing myself access to social media for a series of days. During the first day of my fast, I found myself wandering through my phone looking for the apps out of habit. It surprises me how of a social media robot I’ve become. It’s not that I normally post or do a lot on Facebook. I am finding that I found a comfort in the constant strolling. That’s how it loops you in. You find a need to reach for your phone in the middle of the night or when you first wake up to see if you’ve received any of the notifications or to wander on the pages of friends to see what they’re up to or to just scroll through your newsfeed. My husband and I watched a documentary on Netflix a while back. The documentary is called, “The Social Dilemma”. This documentary discusses how social media is structured and created to loop you into this black hole of oblivion and how it purposefully feeds you with info, ads, and posts of friends to keep you coming back for more. After watching this documentary, I decided to give myself mental breaks from social media from time to time. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy them. I, in fact, enjoy them a little too much. A lot of my time is consumed by them.
Each week my phone gives me a breakdown of my usage on apps. If you have an iPhone, it will do this for you. Pay attention to those percentage breakdowns. I was spending around 73% of my phone time on social media apps. I then realized that this is the time that I could be engaging with my family more, reading, meditating, etc. Not to mention, there has been studies to identify the direct correlation of social media and mental health. The studies find that people will consistently post more to receive the instant gratification of likes and comments. They crave the attention and feedback of others. They begin to need outside validation. Studies have also found that there is a correlation to depression because people start to compare their lives to the lives of others. People typically only post what they would like for you to see, which is not always what goes on behind closed doors. Therefore, people with depression or other mental health issues will begin comparing their lives to the lives of others on Facebook. They can often lose sight of all of the things to be grateful for within themselves and their lives, because they are constantly trying to keep up with that of others.
This brings me to this blog today. My social media break was needed. I have had time to reflect, replenish, and focus on the things that truly matter. This is not saying that social media is bad, and that you shouldn’t get on it. It is saying to proceed with moderation and to be mindful of the amount of time spent on social media. I primarily work with family engagement in my position with WFSU. So, I would like to provide you with some tips/activities that can be done individually and/or with family during social media breaks.
- Canvas Art: Dollar Tree has canvases and acrylic paint for $1. Perhaps you could do your own “Painting with a Twist” type of activity at home. YouTube has some drawing and painting tutorials for all ages. You could also go to a park and set up an area on a picnic table and draw and paint the nature around you. Be creative!
- Puzzle Races: Dollar Tree has puzzles as well. You could set up a series of puzzles inside of the home. Then, the family members can work on each puzzle, and time themselves to see who can complete the puzzle the quickest or work in teams (i.e. It can be mom and daughter vs dad and son).
- Read: There are so many book apps or you can take a trip to the local public library to find a book of choice. Then, you can have family book clubs, and you and your relatives can get together to discuss the details of your individual books or read a book together as a family. By the way, “War with Grandpa”, is a great book to read as a family.
- Cook: Find a great recipe and prepare it! You can do this alone, but it would be so much fun to do with it a family member. Perhaps this would be a good time to dust off grandma or grandpa’s cookbook and make one of their recipes!
- Exercise: Of course you can do the traditional exercise tapes, go for walks or bike rides, or maybe even skating. However, wouldn’t it be fun to put that gaming console to use as well! You could purchase Wii Game Sports, Just Dance, or another fun interactive game that challenges you to be physically active while having fun. GoNoodle is a free resource that several teachers use in their classrooms for brain breaks. This could be used at home. Just visit this site: gonoodle.com
- Vision Boards: The only app that I keep on my phone while “social media fasting” is Pinterest. I use Pinterest to pin ideas for vision boards. I create boards for several categories (Cooking, Home Décor, Crafting, Budgeting, etc). Don’t want to use Pinterest? No problem! Dollar Tree has poster boards and mostly all of the other crafting necessities needed for vision boards (foam stickers, markers, scissors, tape, etc). You could gather those materials and magazines, and do vision boards the “old fashion way”.
- Board Games/Game Night: My family loves game night! Gather some of your family favorites and play games together! Some great games for family are UNO, Charades, Taboo, Pictionary, Heads Up, Goldfish, Scrabble, Life, Monopoly, etc. There are so many great games to play!
There is so much that you can do a family! Don’t forget to disconnect from your phones and/or social media sometimes to enjoy the little things!
“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.”
Felisha W. Nicholson
Education & Engagement Advisor, WFSU Public Media