5 social media detox tips that will make you want to switch off your phone and go outside


Phubbing is when you’d rather scroll your feed than talk to someone. Here’s what you can do to stop it

Nicola Chan |

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We get it – we know how hard it is to not be constantly checking your Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook accounts. But we also know that all the time you spend phubbing could be better spent on improving your health, your relationships, and your grades. Here are five things you can do to kick-start your social media detox in the run-up to the DSEs.

Remove notifications from your screen

Former Google employee Tristan Harris has frequently spoken about the tricks used to make smartphones so addictive. One example is colour.

As iPhone users know, any new notifications will appear on your lockscreen, while a number in a red bubble pops up on the app’s icon.

“Red is a trigger colour,” Harris said in an interview with British newspaper The Guardian . “That’s why the colour is used as a signal of alarm.”

Harris says a simple way to ease your social media obsession is to switch your screen display from colour to grayscale. It might not kill your addiction right away, but at the very least the dull visuals should reduce your desire to scroll. If that’s not enough, you can also disable the notification bubbles by tapping the Badge App Icon option on your iPhone. Android users can turn off their notifications in their settings.

To enable grayscale, iPhone users need to go to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations > Colour Filters > Grayscale. Android users need to go to: Settings > Developer Options > Simulate Colour Space > Monochromacy. You can access the Developer Options setting by going to About Phone and tapping the build number a couple of times.

Make these platforms out of sight

Out of sight, out of mind, right? You can hide the app icons the same way you can hide the notifications. Move them into folders – that way, you don’t see them the moment you unlock your phone. As a result, you’re less likely to open them.

If that doesn’t stop you, hide your apps from the main menu, too. Limit the amount of data you use – either change the settings on your phone, or change your phone plan to one with less data.

To hide your apps, iPhone users can go to: App Store > Today > Your Profile Picture > Purchased. Find the app you want to hide, swipe left, and tap Hide. There’s no such function for Android phones, but there are apps, like Hide App-Hide Application Icon, that you can download to do the same thing. Yes, we’re aware of how silly downloading an app to hide your apps sounds.

Hide your phone, or turn it off

So you’ve managed to hide all your apps, but you’re logging onto the mobile browser versions instead. The next step is to stop picking up your phone. Wear a watch instead of checking the time on the lockscreen, and put the charger in the living room, not your bedroom. If you’re studying, turn your phone off. If you need your phone, then use incognito windows when browsing. That way, you have to log in every time you go on Instagram and Facebook.

Deactivate your accounts

If even that doesn’t convince you to put the phone down, then maybe it’s time to deactivate your accounts. To deactivate Facebook, head to: Settings > General > Manage Account > Deactivate Your Account. For Instagram, it’s: Edit Profile > Temporarily Disable My Account.

There’s no deactivation option on the Snapchat app. You have to visit their support website to deactivate your account for up to a month. After that, if you still haven’t reactivated it, they will delete your account – but it can be reactivated if you log in again.

All gifs via GIPHY

Another thing you can do is ask a friend or family member (one that you trust) to change the passwords to ones you won’t know.

However, this should be an absolute last resort, because you should never give your log-in details to anyone.

Redirect your attention

Substitute your social media apps with other apps that will divert your attention, such as a news app, or a language learning app.

Forest: Stay Focused is a game-like app that uses patience to reward users – the more you keep the app open on your screen, the bigger tree you will grow.

Apps like this one require users to remain on their app, which means you spend less time on Twitter or Instagram. Because there’s not really anything else to DO on them, you can use your free time to study – or even to talk to people face to face.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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