Media, social media and mental health

Learn how and when to digitally detox from social media


Our smartphones often seem like an essential part of our selves. They’re how we stay in touch with people and, for many, they are the main way we get news about the world we live in. While being connected online can bring lots of positives, there are downsides too. When the things you see, hear and read online make you feel angry, sad or worried this can have a damaging impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or upset by things you’ve seen online try these tips to reduce your screen time and limit your exposure to negative news.

Digital detox

A digital detox means limiting your exposure to screens.

Find out how much you use your phone

Before starting your detox find out how much time you’re spending on your phone each day. Check if your phone has a screen-time function that shows how much time you’re spending on your phone and which apps take up most of this time.

Set yourself a social media allowance

Set a time limit for social media use. If your android or iPhone has a screen time function you can use this to set a timer for social media apps.

Phone-free time

Find ways to separate yourself from your phone. Take time to incorporate the 5 steps to wellbeing into your daily routine.

Phone-stack with your colleagues, family or housemates. Stack your phones together with a rule that the first person who lifts theirs has to do a forfeit.

Try leaving your phone in another room when you go to bed. This helps you to resist the urge to scroll while you’re trying to sleep.

Cleaning your feed

Unfollow or mute accounts if they make you feel angry, upset or worried or if they take up too much of your time.

Engage more with content that makes you feel good. This will help the algorithms that decide what content to show you know what you enjoy.

Think about all the platforms you use and decide which you get the most out off. Delete the others from your phone to give yourself a break. You may find that you don’t want to reinstall them.

Trusting your sources

In recent years more and more people get their news and information from social media. Some people believe the mainstream media is biased and that social media provides an uncensored and unfiltered view of world events.

Unfortunately, a lot of what’s shared as news on social media is factually incorrect, despite looking and seeming authentic.

Fact checking sites and services can help you sort truth from fiction. Here are a few worth bookmarking.

Smartphone addiction

Studies suggest that millions of people around the world suffer from smartphone or social media addiction. And social media can lead to users becoming isolated from their real world social network.

You may be addicted to your phone or to social media if

  • you find it hard to resist impulses to look at your phone
  • your usage impacts on your mood
  • you use your phone for longer than you had intended to
  • you keep using social media despite it having a negative impact on your mental or physical wellbeing
  • your phone or social media usage is impacting on your relationships, work, school or other daily activities

If you can relate to these signs, it may be time for a digital detox.

Negative news

Your mental health can suffer when the news cycle is focused on sad, frightening and upsetting events. Follow these tips to deal positively with a negative news cycle and keep yourself informed without becoming overwhelmed.