- For three days, take note of your daily time spent on social media and other media platforms such as YouTube and Netflix.
- For four days, activate the timer notification on Instagram to remind you when your time on the app is up (start with 30 minutes for two days, and then 15 minutes for the next two days).
- For the next two weeks, go on a digital detox. Find ways to use that time on other activities instead!
When I first received the challenge, I was extremely surprised at how apt the timing was. For the last two months, my screen time has been rising at an alarming rate and I am getting increasingly conscious of how bad it has become. Yet, I have been unable to bring myself to control my social media usage. During school weeks, I clocked in eight hours of screen time daily. During the school holidays, it steadily hit 11 hours. I confess — I once hit 15 hours a day! This challenge will definitely help me to manage my phone usage and not rely too much on technology.
For the past three days, I have savoured these last few moments of “freedom” and allowed myself to use social media freely. However, the impending challenge lingers at the back of my mind; I am subconsciously aware that a high screen time is not healthy. I realise that I spend a lot of time on YouTube and on TikTok. The moment I get bored, I move on to another app. Switching between different social media apps does make me feel empty inside sometimes. Also, the moment I watch a new TV series (I just started the new Korean drama “Start Up”), I can spend hours binge-watching it. I have decided that in order to slowly ease myself into the impending challenge, I will try to exercise daily and hang out with my friends more.
The time came to activate the 30-minute timer on my Instagram app to limit the amount of time I spend online! However, knowing that I am easily tempted, I decided to delete the app to eliminate any form of temptation! I must be honest and confess — I still eventually downloaded Instagram again due to a lack of self-control and a desire to keep up with my friends’ lives online. Yet, when the 30-minute timer went off, I actually managed to get off the app! I also decided to set time limits on YouTube and Netflix to prevent myself from consuming other sorts of media to fill up the void of Instagram. It hasn’t been easy; I hope that I will be able to fully stick to this two-week digital detox!
THE REAL CHALLENGE
When I started the week, I had a game plan: to bring a book with me wherever I go and to fill my time with other activities like hanging out with my friends! I even got a puzzle to help curb my boredom that week. When I got the puzzle, I spent some time solving it and asking my friends to help me out too. It has been a cool and fun way for me to learn how to find other ways to enjoy my time without having to use social media. I also spent more time worshipping God these few days by quieting down my heart, listening to Christian songs, and proclaiming His truth.
This week was tough. I just started my junior college initiation so I made a lot of new friends and Instagram has been my main way to connect with them. By the end of the first week, I really could not keep away from Instagram, but I disciplined myself to keep to the 30-minute limit daily. In all honesty, I have succumbed several times to indulging in a few extra minutes to check out someone’s profile.
Without social media, it has definitely felt quite strange and awkward at times when I suddenly realise that I have a bulk of time on my hands. I tried to fill that gap by reading more books and trying to kickstart a regular quiet time schedule again. When I have small pockets of time while waiting for my bus or commuting on public transport, I have tried to read more books, one of which is a popular book on social inequality. There have been plenty of moments when I definitely find myself drawn back to the temptation of scrolling through Instagram. I have come to the harsh realisation that cutting social media out of my life is truly harder than I thought!
In all honesty, I have struggled with deleting TikTok for awhile. I felt like it had a toxic grasp on me. It had become a platform that fed my insecurities and unrealistic expectations. The endless stream of TikToks with cute couples, perfect friendship groups, and exciting lives overseas really influenced me to chase after a worldly life that seems perfect and cool. I am very happy that I have been able to do without TikTok for the last two weeks!
Even with Instagram, I realise that I have always felt the immense need to check the number of likes on my posts or the number of people viewing my Instagram stories. Beyond that, compliments on my outfit or replies to my Instagram stories used to really make my day. It’s funny how I found happiness in comments from people I barely knew! Though I wasn’t fully able to abstain from Instagram, I feel that this challenge has given me the opportunity to be less reliant on the likes and validation that comes from Instagram and compelled me to rediscover my identity in Christ again.
With this new-found time on my hands that I used to spend mindlessly scrolling through social media, I have started connecting intentionally with people and building deeper relationships. I have more time to talk to friends I care about, arranging calls almost every night so that we can delve deeper into our lives and spend time helping and spurring each other on. This challenge has really helped me to reflect on my time spent online and to discover ways to centre my life on Christ in this digital world!