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Social media has played an integral role in the development of our culture. Around 85% of Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% in 2011, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center. As we continue to advance in this digital age, it can be mentally draining to constantly stare at a screen. Teens are especially susceptible to this, as teens use social media as a major form of communication and entertainment.

Approximately 45% of adolescents report being online “almost constantly,” according to data collected by the National Center for Health Research. Around 13% of 12 to 17-year-olds also reported having depression, and 32% reported having anxiety. Technology attachment in adolescents can result in lowered social skills, ADHD, depression and other forms of mental health decline, according to research from the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

With mental illness at an all time high in this growing digital world, it is not a bad idea to take a break from the screens, and take some time for your mental wellness. Trust me, your eyes can use a break from the blue light. Here are five entertaining activities you can engage in screen free.

1. Whisk away your stress

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This new trend surfacing the internet is a fun activity you can do to unleash your inner artist. All you need to do is go to the store and pick up some cake mix, a cake pan and cake decorations. Once you bake the cake, you can compete with your friends to see who can decorate it the cutest yet simplest. This is an entertaining activity you can partake in, and the best part is eating the cake afterwards. After all, who doesn't like cake?

2. Listen to your favorite songs and get moving

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Dancing is a great form of exercise and can keep you engaged while burning calories. University of Maryland freshman Jalyn Mathis said she likes to dance instead of mindlessly scrolling. Dancing can even boost your mood, Mathis noted.

“For me, plugging in my earbuds and dancing to music gives me a serotonin boost,” Mathis said. “Something about being able to drain out any other noise and dance to the beat of your own drum … is satisfying.”

3. Go on an adventure

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Hiking is something I enjoy doing with friends and family during my breaks from social media. Hiking allows you to experience the outdoors while getting your daily exercise. It's exercise with a scenic view.

4. Arts and crafts 

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Self expression is a great way to boost your mood. Whether it’s painting, photography, drawing or some other creative activity, it will surely be more pleasant than scrolling through Instagram. University of Maryland freshman Jasmine Wathen likes partaking in painting and jewelry making in her spare time. Wathen noted that finishing a project can be quite rewarding. 

“I like to paint and make necklaces and other things because they are fun to do when I am bored. Also, seeing the finished product of what I make makes me happy,” Wathen said.

5. Take yourself on a date 

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You do not have to be in a relationship in order to enjoy a date. Spending quality time with yourself can be relaxing and soothing after a stressful day. It is important to practice self love. By taking yourself on a “date,” whether it be to get food at your favorite restaurant or to get a manicure, you are practicing self appreciation. This simple act of spending time in your own company can help boost self esteem.

Jennifer Gable is a junior Journalism major with a Law and Society minor at the University of Maryland, College Park. She serves as Assistant social media manager for HC UMD. Jenny is also a staff writer for the publication. Writing, politics, photography, and mental health activism are her passions.
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