“When your mental health becomes impacted by social media then it is time for a detox.” ~ Germany Kent
The original post focused on how I was learning to become the magical “content creator” on TikTok and YouTube. Once I started my masters program, I was able to truly detox from social media, so the advice has been updated. Enjoy!
On April 30th, I posted a video titled “May is Mental Health Month” on my TikTok which at the time had almost 17k followers. I hyper fixated on going viral again, and especially wanted my mental health content to receive more views than me ranting about negative experiences with Karens (that was not a fun year).
I was struggling to control my social media usage and felt a need to check how many likes I received. Since these apps are designed to keep us locked in, I naturally ended up scrolling for hours instead of simply “popping in”.
My first goal was to delete my 75+ drafts on TikTok, so I had to delete the app. However, once I deleted the app I had no desire to redownload it. This is what began my 30-day social media detox, that become several months with on and off usage and rarely any posting until academic breaks.
I have learned so much this past year, and definately have a better handle on my usage, so here are 5 Ways to Reduce Your Social Media Use.
1. Track Your Social Media Usage
Most likely, if you have a social media problem you also have a smart phone. Facebook works best on desktop, but Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc are made for mobile devices.
You phone likely has the option to track your app data. Using you app data you can see how long you spend on each app every day, and beyond!
Android users, such as myself, have Digital Wellbeing. We can set timers, create screen time goals, and schedule focus times. There’s a driving monitor for people who connect their car and phones via Bluetooth.
My favorite feature is Bedtime Mode: the screen becomes grayscale, notifications are off, and you quickly lose interest and go to bed!
As an example for these features, here’s a photo!
As you can see, I’ve been catching up on my webcomics ;0)
If you use an iPhone here are the instructions.
2. Ask Yourself "Why Am I On This App?"
Why do you use social media in the first place? I’ll go first: I was lonely. There’s something about not having a car in the Midwest that makes it very hard to make friends after college.
I met a few other twenty-somethings who were passionate about social justice, women’s rights, civil rights, psychology, anime, etc. Whatever your interests may be there is someone making content about it. The plus side of TikTok was that it’s so casual and you can start conversations easily.
The downside is that people are haters, and I mean their hatred towards others is deep and powerful. The relief from meeting people like me was contrasted with overwhelming bullying and harassment towards people who look like me or have the same beliefs as me (e.g., who knew people still believe racism doesn’t exist?)
At the end of the day, no matter how comfortable we become talking about our lives as part of marginalized communities, we are still living in a society that does not value our lives. This was a lot to deal with.
So, I asked myself “why am I still on this app?” a lot. There’s no rush, take some time to reflect on your own reasons. Weigh the pros and cons. No decisions required yet, just analysis.
3. Be Honest About Your Mental Health
My most popular YouTube video was “Why I Won’t Quit Social Media” where I talked about my conflicting beliefs about social media. I deleted it recently because I plan to remake it, but essentially I was stuck in the mindset that I was somehow “okay” when I clearly was not.
I understand the psychology of these apps, how developers use our brains’ responses to stimulation to increase engagement for profit, no matter the cost to the health of users (especially teenagers and young adults).
Lying to myself, I believed watching videos all night was part of my journey to become a better version of myself.
Have you notice changes to your health since using social media? Are you sick more often? Have trouble sleeping? Reflect on how you feel when you’ve spent a day offline vs getting lost in an endless scroll.
4. Set Limits On and Off Your Phone
If you want to reduce your social media use, you will have to take action to make it more difficult to use your apps in the first place. On TikTok you can set up a one-hour time limit where a passcode is needed to continue using. This link is for the TikTok webpage about how to set this up.
I’ll be honest, if you’ve been scrolling for an hour straight, the 1 hour time limit probably won’t do anything. At that point you may be in the middle of a funny or enlightening video and simply type the 4 digits to get right back to it.
What works for me is to multitask. If I have something I am already doing in the real world I can find my link away from the online world. Often I use cooking as my out. Making the time for my hobbies has become more important to me than ever.
My biggest limit is of course my studies. During the school year I prefer to scroll for 1 hour max total for both my Instagram and TikTok accounts.
5. Delete Your Apps and/or Accounts
I recommend limiting the number of apps you have accounts with. The fewer accounts you have the less likely you are to use social media. I often delete the apps from my phone if I notice my usage increasing. I remind myself that doing my homework and taking notes will always serve me better than watching someone bake specialty birthday cakes.
This past year I have deactivated my Twitter, Snapchat (which I stopped using years ago), anime-centered TikTok account, and mental health Instagram account.
I often consider deleting my Facebook, but since many older relatives use it, I have not. While I love watching YouTube videos about people who have deleted all of their social media (except for YouTube), I am not ready to be one of them. I love sharing my latest reads on my bookstagram (@UnrulyBookworms), and still have hope that I can make my TikTok a force for good someday.
It’s your phone, tablet, or computer, so the choice is yours!
This post is not psychological or research-based advice nor a guide on how to live your life. I simply wanted to share pieces of my own experiences and encourage you to take some time away from your phones.
Maybe you’ll delete your favorite app, the app you anguished over deleting, only to find that you didn’t miss much. In fact, you missed much more before you checked in on your true feelings and motivations.
I hope enjoyed reading this and found my tips useful on your journey of self-control and personal development. Make sure to check out my related posts on mental health and self-care listed down below!
Recommended Posts & Resources
- Just How Harmful Is Social Media? Our Experts Weigh-In. Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
- Exposure to Social Media Racial Discrimination and Mental Health among Adolescents of Color National Library of Medicine