Maddie DeVries wakes up at 7 a.m. Before she crawls out of bed, she’s already scrolling through her timeline.
Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Back to Twitter.
Twenty minutes go by and now DeVries is running late for her 8 a.m. … again.
But that was a month ago.
Since then, the first-year pre-public health student decided to delete all of her social media accounts except Facebook.
“It started off just because I wanted to focus on midterms, but I’d been entertaining the idea,” DeVries said. “I realized that every waking moment that I had, I was just sitting on my phone and just looking at social media.”
What began as a way to crack down on studying resulted in an entirely new outlook on life for DeVries.
“I was spending a lot of time just looking at other people’s lives,” DeVries said. “I used it more to compare myself to other people. I felt like I was less living my own life and more living theirs. I’m looking at everything that’s going on with them and I kind of lost grasp on what my own life meant to me, and I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I do without social media.”
DeVries isn’t the only one unplugging from the world of social media.
Junior business major Sam Shelley has been offline for over a year. His social media detox started when he gave up Twitter his first year. The cleanse continued a year later when he decided he was ready to get rid of Instagram and Snapchat, too.
“Every time I was with people, people were always on social media and I realized I was doing that, too,” Shelley said. “I wasted so much of my life on social media, and I wasn’t really getting anything out of it. Whenever I would be with people they would take a picture for Instagram or a video for Snapchat, not just to remember it.”
Researchers say students like Shelley and DeVries may be on to something.
Mitch Prinstein, the University’s director of clinical psychology, co-authored a study looking at the impacts of social media on adolescents and found that those who spent more time online were less adept to manage conflict and assert their needs in personal relationships.
While the study’s subjects averaged 14-years-old, Prinstein said there’s plenty of reason to think what he’s noticed in high schoolers also affects college-aged students.
“On social media, you’re engaging in different kinds of interactions,” Prinstein said. “There tends to be less sentiment, they’re more focused on superficial kinds of things. It’s very different than the kinds of things you develop in terms of emotional intimacy or just regular conversational skills that you’d get in person.”
Prinstein said in the past, those who weren’t on social media reported being more lonely, but recently, the people with more friends have been giving up social media.
“They’re frustrated with how fake it is and how much pressure it is to keep up with it,” Prinstein said. “I think this is a pendulum that’s starting to turn the other way finally.”
“Whenever I’m with people I’m focusing on the people I want to be with, and not what other people are doing,” Shelley said. “I don’t feel filtered, and I don’t feel like I have to show my life to other people.”
DeVries doesn’t plan on logging back on anytime soon.
“It’s only been a month but within that month I’ve just valued all my friendships more because I realize how much I cherish those friendships when I get to see them,” DeVries said. “I guess in-person connection and conversation means a lot more to me than just a text.”
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