Social Media Detox: What Happens After Just a Day Without Notifications?

Khryss | Published 2017-09-01 13:11

Almost everyone in the world now has a phone.  And with different social media apps bombarding us with endless notifications, it’s hard to not be distracted by them. But have you ever thought of having some sort of "fasting"? You know, breaking the cycle and turning off your notifications for quite some time? Ever thought of how different life would be?

Researchers Luz Rello at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania and Martin Pielot from Telefónica, a Spanish telecommunications company, wanted to know how would that affect people. Specifically, she wanted to know how people’s behaviors will change after a week of having no notifications or what they call as the Do Not Disturb Challenge. However, they weren't able to get any participants willing to join in the week-long experiment so they had to decrease the time length to 24 hours (on which 30 willing participants thankfully signed up).

With the challenge, participants said they felt anxious about what they might be missing out, worrying mostly on being less responsive to others. This shows how social expectation can be the biggest indicator of one's anxiety and worry. “If people don’t think of you as likely to respond quickly, you were unlikely to feel stressed during the challenge,” says Pielot, “but if you have a boss who expects a quick response, then things were different.”  

The good news, though, is that participants were less distracted and more productive. Just after the challenge, 22 of the 30 participants said that they would change their behavior on handling notifications. And even after two years, 13 participants--more than half that promised to change their behaviors--kept their promises. One participant stated, “I have followed through with my original plan of keeping only important messages from SMS, none from Facebook or other social media.”

It is important not just to manage notifications, but also the likelihood to check them. “If you have notifications constantly grabbing your attention, we know that you are more likely to make mistakes and you are less likely to get stuff done,” says Anna Cox, a professor from the University College London Interaction Centre.

Social media detox is really good for your well-being. Try it sometimes.

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