How to so a social media detox. Teens looking at their phones

How to do a Social Media Detox With Your Teen

Posted on January, 14, 2024 by

I recently read a book about a dystopian not-that-far-in-the-future world dealing with escalating climate change.  The book was meh but there was one thing I found intriguing. In the book, everyone has a “flick” implanted behind their ear at birth.  The “flick” is the next, next, next, level smartphone where people just flick their ear to use social media, communicate, and search for information.  People are basically described as Zombies staring into space when they are on their “flick,” which is most of the time. 

The idea of having some kind of chip that is implanted into people seems both possible and concerning.  The smartphone hasn’t even been around for that long and look how it changed the way we communicate with each other.  I figure it can go one of two ways.  Either we collectively look up from our phones and see the harm it is doing to our young people such as spiking mental health issues like anxiety and depression and decreasing it’s use, or the “flick.” 

In order to begin motivating our kids to break the over-consumption of the social media cycle, I suggest a Social Media Detox.  Not going cold turkey, but a more subtle approach. So call a family meeting because this is for all of you and remember to keep the conversation light making sure your teen does not see it as a punishment. Here are some tips on how to do a social media detox with your teen:

1) Set goals:  As a group, choose a few achievable goals like no phones at dinner or phones off an hour before bed.

2) Go-to activities:  Identify replacement activities each of you can do instead of turning to social media. Read a book, cook or bake something, or take the dog for a nice walk.  

3) Try gamifying it:  Whoever has the least amount of screen time at the end of the week gets something special such as picking a restaurant or a movie to go to.

4) Speaking of games:  Most of us play games on our phones during downtime or to avoid doing something that needs to get done.  Ask your teen to pick one game and delete it for a week and maybe you do the same.

5) Turn off notifications: Everyone should decide what they need to know right away and turn off the other notifications.

6) Start Small:  Maybe just an hour of no screen time a day for the first week, and then increase the time incrementally in subsequent weeks.

7) Put it away:  No phone on the dinner table, phone in a drawer during homework and before going to bed. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind really works!

Sure, your teen might not be on-board at first but when they notice that they feel better after the week is up it will be worth it. Just one little side note, my pet peeve is group texts. The constant pinging interrupting whatever your teen is doing affects focus and productivity which especially impacts homework completion.  Studies have also shown that a reduction in social media usage improves executive functions as well. Happy de-toxing!