Taking a Break: The Effects of Partaking in a Two-Week Social Media Digital Detox on Problematic Smartphone and Social Media Use, and Other Health-Related Outcomes among Young Adults

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Behav Sci (Basel)


Despite their increasing popularity, especially among young adults, there is a dearth of research examining the effectiveness of digital detoxes focused on restricting or limiting social media use. As such, the purpose of this exploratory study was to create and carry out a social media digital detox among young adults and evaluate its effectiveness with regards to smartphone and social media addiction, as well as several health-related outcomes. Additionally, the study also sought to obtain an understanding of participants' experiences and perceptions regarding the digital detox via semi-structured exit interviews in order to improve and maximize the effectiveness of future social media digital detox interventions. Thirty-one young adults completed a two-week social media digital detox (preceded by a two-week baseline period and followed up by a two-week follow-up period), whereby their social media use was limited to 30 min per day. A series of one-way repeated measures analyses of variance revealed that a two-week social media detox improved smartphone and social media addiction, as well as sleep, satisfaction with life, stress, perceived wellness, and supportive relationships. Thematic analysis of exit interviews also revealed eight themes: feelings, effort to detox, adjustment period, the Goldilocks effect, screen to screen, post-detox binge, progress not perfection, and words of wisdom, all of which provide contextualization of the quantitative findings and valuable insights for future detoxes. In conclusion, the findings of this exploratory study provide initial support for the use of social media digital detoxes, suggesting that limiting usage can have beneficial effects with regards to smartphone and social media addiction, as well as many other health-related outcomes.

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