I Quit Social Media for a Week...Here’s What I Learned

Like most college students, I use social media all the time. There are endless easy ways for me to get distracted on these apps, from scrolling through TikTok to watching stories on Instagram. I feel like my screen time has been at an all-time high, especially after the summer, when I had so much time to just lounge around on my phone.

With midterms coming up and stressing me out, I decided I wanted to stop using social media for a week. At first, it seemed like a crazy undertaking, but it turned out to be a very positive experience!

Before I start, I want to define what I classify as social media. To me, social media is any app where I have an account, interact with other users, and share my own content. I didn’t include video-watching apps such as YouTube and Netflix (even though I know YouTube is technically social media) because I don’t use those apps nearly as often. My main goal was to cut out apps that are very distracting for me – Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Facebook.

At the beginning of this whole experience, I found that I would instinctively click on many of my social media apps without meaning to. For instance, after unlocking my phone, I would click on TikTok almost immediately because my brain was so used to doing so. Then I would quickly close it after remembering my goal for the week. Honestly, this was kind of scary because I didn’t realize how conditioned my mind was to opening these apps whenever I was on my phone.

After getting through the small hurdle of immediately instinctively opening social media apps, I found I had a lot more time than I thought I did. Even though I typically get distracted in small bursts of time, those short periods definitely add up. By not using social media, I found that I had more time for studying, journaling, or just doing other things I liked. For example, I had always put off reading because I didn’t think I had the time, but I was able to start re-reading the Percy Jackson series during the week! Perhaps I’ve always had the time, but I just didn’t want to put my phone down.

picking a book Photo by Christin Hume from Unsplash One of the biggest changes that occurred this week was that my mental health improved (always a good thing!). I always thought that I’d feel some form of FOMO (fear of missing out) by not using social media, but it was actually the opposite. Often, I’ll compare myself to the images, videos, etc. I see online, and by not doing that for a week, I was much happier. I felt a little less stressed, and I just enjoyed not looking at other people’s curated lives online. In a way, I think that by putting a ton of energy into focusing on other people's lives, I forgot to focus on my own. This week showed me how important it was to just focus on myself.

My biggest takeaway was that I didn’t feel any significant loss by removing social media from my life. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but for someone who thought that she was addicted to being online, it really was. 

I want to make it very clear that I don’t hate social media. This article does seem to paint it in a negative light, but I do think it can be really fun! I love connecting with people and getting to see positive trends/stories online. I think it’s so cool that we can interact with people from all around the world and view other peoples’ creativity. However, I do think that most of us use it too much for our own good, and sometimes, taking a little break is exactly what we need.

In terms of the future, I’ve already become a lot less attached to my social media accounts, so I hope to use them less. Obviously, I still want to go on TikTok once in a while, but I’ve realized I don’t need to look at it as soon as I get out of bed every morning.

To anyone who’s thinking of doing this “challenge,” I encourage you to try it! Even if it’s not cutting out ALL social media, it’s always good to try and use your phone a bit less so you can be more present. Go outside, read a book, hang out with your family and friends, or bake some fall-themed treats! I promise that it’s easier than you think, and you’ll feel a lot better after.