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Social Media Detox: When, How, and Why You Should Call a Timeout

Internet break, anyone?
by Arianne Merez
Jan 11, 2021
Photo/s: Shutterstock

From the late flight attendant Christine Dacera's friends to British Royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the start of 2021 has shown how vitriol on social media can become so unsurvivable, quitting seems like the only recourse.

For those who revel in it like U.S. President Donald Trump, his Twitter megaphone got silenced for good after his supporters stormed Congress to protest his defeat to President-Elect Joe Biden.

Whether forced or by choice many people have at some point taken time off from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. When it gets unbearable, it could be time for a detox.

What is social media detox?

Psychologist and life coach Dr. Ali Gui described it as the conscious elimination of social media for a limited period of time.

"Generally, most of the social media detox is only for 30 days. Some fast for one week or seven days but some people do it longer like one or two years," she told reportr.

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Using social media is a personal choice and similarly, going on a detox--whether temporarily or permanently--is also a personal decision,  Gui said, emphasizing that there is no specific set of rules for it.

"It's a conscious move. You do it because no one else will do it for you," she said. "There really is no specific time frame as to how long or when to detox. Some people do it for a week or two weeks and that's fine. It all depends on the person."


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Why should you go on detox?

If you're wondering whether is it time to take a social media detox or whether you should do it at all, Dr. Gui said one should look out for signs of addiction to it.

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Like anything, too much is no longer healthy, she explained.

"Kung nakikita mo na hindi ka na nakakakilos or parati ka na lang nasa social media, you should think about taking a detox. Anything too much is addictive, same as social media, and that's not healthy at all," she said.

When should you go on detox?

The timing of a digital detox depends on the person's need for it, Dr. Gui said, noting that an individual must first assess whether he or she can live without social media during the time period chosen.

"When to do it is the very moment that you feel that social media is taking over your life."

How long should you do it? It depends, Dr. Gui said. Some people are fine with a quick one-day detox. Others meanwhile stay off social media for a year or two. 

For people whose jobs need social media and want to go on a detox, Dr. Gui suggested quick breaks of an hour or two. Finding a "balance" and reminding oneself of the purpose of social media use is also a must, she said.

Continue reading below ↓


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Dr. Gui for instance said she makes it a point to put her phone on sleep mode while she rests to avoid any distractions. She also made a personal choice to set time limits on responding to social media queries or messages.

It is also important, according to Dr. Gui, to look out and recognize the negative effects social media has or has developed in one's life so that a conscious decision on whether to detox or not can be made.

"The important thing is to use social media the right way and with intention or a purpose," she said.

How to detox?

Like most activities, Dr. Gui recommends taking a social media detox with a friend or a buddy at the same time.

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"It's like getting fit. It's like going to the gym--masarap ang may kasama," she said.

Having someone share the activity also eases the return process to social media.

"Hindi ka masyado maninibago kasi pareho kayo na nag-detox. May kasama ka. You're not alone in it," she said. "It's like when you have a friend to lean on."

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