Digital Detox

Breaking Up Isn’t So Hard to Do: Planning a Digital Detox

If you challenged your student to a digital detox resulting in disengagement from their social media platforms, what do you think their reaction would be? Fear? Horror? A little disbelief that you would even suggest such a thing? You may be shuddering just at the thought of that conversation!

But you may also have noticed a few signs that would indicate it might be healthy for them to break the social media bonds for a little while. However, knowing when to take a break can be a little easier than determining how to take a break.

Luckily for you both, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and there are many ways for your student to do a digital detox without the FOMO (fear of missing out).

Do they need a digital detox?

If you believe your student could benefit from going off the social grid, get the facts (just the facts). Have them install an app that tracks their social media usage. It is likely to be an eye opener for you both.

Use the buddy system.

If you or any other family members are active on social media, encourage a group challenge. Goals are easier to attain when there is a support system in place. Pro-tip: Have your student invite a friend to the challenge for a more relatable experience.

Which platforms need a digital detox?

All social media plus streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.? Or maybe just a favorite platform?

What timeframe?

A week, two weeks, a month? Pro-tip: Try doing a detox during the first week of school to start (or reinforce) healthier internet habits as the academic year begins!

What’s the Plan B?

What activities can replace scrolling, viewing, and liking? Having something else to do makes it easier to turn away from that shiny app. Are there any long-neglected or new hobbies to work on? Ditch the feeds and try meeting friends IRL (in real life) to create an even stronger sense of connection.

And speaking of apps…

Reduce temptation by temporarily deleting the ones affected by the digital detox. They will be ready and waiting on the other side of the challenge.

Remember why you are doing a digital detox.

Install a wallpaper on phone and tablets with an meaningful quote, or photo as inspiration. Use strategically placed sticky notes with messages of motivation throughout your home, office, notebooks and on laptops.

Is going cold turkey a little too daunting for you or your teen?

These ideas a little less radical, but get the job done:

  • Encourage social media-free days. Since most students are unable to look at their phones in class (check out why this teacher is having phones checked at the door), a weekday might be the perfect time to go social media-free. Pro-tip: Keep a calendar, schedule the time, and stick to it!
  • Declare phone-free zones. No phones at family outings, activities, or meals.
  • Out of sight… (you know the rest!) Try keeping phones out of reach and out of sight to reduce the temptation to pick them up in the first place.
  • Go Old Skool with a Phone Call. Ask friends and family to call instead of texting or dm’ing.
  • Treat yo’self! Institute a reward system to make the experience fun (and maybe a little competitive) Everybody went a whole week? Celebrate!

Doing a digital detox could pleasantly surprise both you and your student. This Medium author sure was. And I, talking the talk and walking the walk, have gone through several digital detoxes myself. While it did feel a little weird at first, I found I had the energy and the motivation to work on neglected projects, finish that novel gathering dust on my bookshelf, and spend time with people in the real world. The biggest surprise? When I went back on social media it felt fresh and fun again.

Everyone could use a break from social media from time-to-time, and hopefully these tips and ideas will make it a little less painful to do so.  

Do you or your student need a digital detox? What methods will you be trying?

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