How Disconnecting from Social Media Leads to More Connection

March 17th, 2022

Our technological world is rapidly expanding. Fifteen years ago when many teenagers were getting their first cell phones, they were only able to call and do simple texting messaging. Now, most adults and teens alike have a computer in their pockets. We are more connected than ever. But are we really? Of course, with any technological advances, there are positives and negatives. Here, we are going to be talking about social media in particular and how disconnecting from social media leads to more connections. 

Positives and Negatives of Social Media

So why the big deal about social media use? 

Social media can be wonderful. It helps us document important memories, stay connected with friends who live afar, help us learn about all kinds of things, and it can even offer some welcome, mindless distraction at times. Right? Sure – within moderation, social media can offer all of these things and none of these are bad in and of themselves.

However, various converging stats all are revealing the same trend. Now, more than ever, social media controls us, rather than us having controlled use over it. Social media sites are intentionally created to captivate attention – and the longer we stay on, the better success indices the sites have. The statistics are astounding. Among some populations, it’s been shown that people will check their phones up to 200 times a day and that the average person struggles to go more than 10 minutes without checking their phones.

In addition to the amount of our valuable time that social media consumes, a vast amount of research is revealing that excessive use contributes to lower mood, anxiety, and reduced esteem and confidence. Importantly, it’s also having a detrimental impact on our actual ability and capacity to connect – both qualitatively and quantitatively. We are social creatures, and rich and meaningful social connections come from uninterrupted quality time together – not 140 character soundbites and emojis.

Ask yourself how social media impacts your life

What aspects of your life may it be taking away from? Consider ways that you can be more intentional about your social media use – and make a commitment to fully disconnect. Creating boundaries with social media use can be incredibly freeing and helpful for our psychological health.

3 Ways to Disconnect from Social Media

Here are 3 things I regularly do with respect to social media use:

  1. Silence and notifications. Almost always, my phone is on silent (unless I’m expecting a call). I’ve disabled social media notifications so I have to go into the app to review messages. This helps me avoid being unnecessarily distracted – and one of the biggest consequences of social media is a constant distraction. Which takes away from mindful living – which negatively affects our health.
  2. Focus on in-person connections first. I’m intentional about putting my phone away when I’m connecting with friends and family. Leaving the phone on a counter, upside down, or even in another room can be a great way to just minimize the temptation to check it.
  3. Turn it off before bedEvery night before bed, I turn my phone onto airplane mode. Research demonstrates that contributes to better sleep patterns, also makes me less likely to check it if I wake in the middle of the night and, for example, can’t go back to sleep.

Social media definitely has its advantages and I am not saying to not use social media – I definitely do. But remember to be intentional about your use as well as your breaks, particularly when you are with other people and before bed to get the most restful sleep.

Ph.D., RCC
Psychological Health & Safety Clinic
Vancouver, V6B 0L1

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