coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus Pandemic Causing Some to Go on a Digital Detox

NBC Universal, Inc.

Between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, it can be a virtual juggling act when it comes to social media. 

"I just felt like social media was stressful and around August I decided to take it off for the rest of the year," said Caleb McGrew, owner of Skn Elements. 

Over three months ago, Caleb McGrew took the plunge with a digital detox. He decided to take a break from all the swiping and scrolling by deleting his personal Facebook and Instagram off of his phone. 

"I think it was just such a time suck for me, or getting that notification from Apple at the end of the week saying you spent 24 hours on your phone like 'wow,' wasting my life away," said McGrew. 

Between COVID-19 and all the buzz surrounding the election, McGrew says he was entranced and would spend up to eight hours a day on social media. 

"Why do we have to have fights about elections on Facebook? I don’t know, but I just decided to check out from that and I couldn’t be more at peace with it. It’s been a major stress reduction technique for me," said McGrew. 

For him, going cold turkey wasn't easy at first. 

"I felt like I had phantom social media like I’d pick up my phone and go 'oh, I don’t have that anymore.' There was definitely an adjustment period but I can’t say I miss it now honestly," said McGrew. 

According to Dr. Newcomer, McGrew isn't the only one feeling this way. 

"I think it’s certainly true that a lot of people are feeling 'burn out' these days," said Dr. Newcomer, President of Thriving Minds South Florida. 

As the pandemic has created a culture of connectivity with virtual calls on computer screens, Dr. Newcomer says it can be tough for individuals to find time to disconnect. 

"You can have a packed day with back-to-back meetings, and during all the gaps you may be bombarded with all this social media content. Probably complicating all that is we’re in an election year, and complicating all that is there is a pandemic going on," said Dr. Newcomer.

According to a recent survey from the American Psychiatric Association, more than one-third of American adults view social media as harmful to their mental health. 

"There’s no end to their day. They’re constantly on the bright screen. It really kind of plays havoc with your normal brain circadian rhythms so I think people dialing that back, they don’t have to throw it out the window necessarily, but dialing it back can have a beneficial impact,” said Dr. Newcomer.  

At the other end of the spectrum, connectivity is still essential for some populations living below the poverty line who need access to telehealth services. 

"On the one hand, there are people who are dying to dial down their media access and there’s a lot of people in our network who wish they could afford a larger data plan because of this need for vital contacts," Dr. Newcomer. 

Regardless of whether you are for or against social media, both Dr. Newcomer and McGrew say putting down your devices sometimes and finding time for yourself can work wonders. 

“I felt like for me it just got toxic and was not something that was serving me so I let it go. I feel happier," said McGrew. 

Contact Us