Universities promote ‘social media detox’ ahead of most depressing day of the year
PUBLISHED: 12:48 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:41 17 January 2019
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Universities are highlighting the effects of social media on wellbeing ahead of Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.
De Montfort University, in Leicester, has halted all content on its nine social media channels ahead of the day.
Vice-chancellor of the university Prof Dominic Shellard told the BBC: “In conversations I’ve had with students, I’ve been really struck by the degree to which their over-engagement on social media is having a negative impact on their mental health.
“They don’t want to come off social media completely but they do want to recalibrate their relationship with social media.”
The intention of the ‘social media detox’ is to warn that an overuse of social media can be bad for students’ well-being.
Dr Harry Dyer, a lecturer of education at the University of East Anglia (UEA), said: “Social media is a complex space which is neither positive or negative.
“Research into social media’s affect on wellbeing is ongoing as there are various reasons people may struggle will ill mental health.
“There are so many positives about social media which people forget about such as peer support, learning and connecting with family and friends.”
Dr Dyer has worked at UEA for two years and enjoys researching the impact of social media.
He continued: “I did some research and one of the people in the project changed the type of people they follow on Instagram to things that made her happy such as travel blogs and there was a huge positive impact on her wellbeing.
“A lot of social media is about controlling what you can see and making sure there’s a variety of things that make you happy.”
A new wellbeing scheme at UEA is allowing students to take dogs for a walk and spend time with them during their breaks every Wednesday.
Dog-walking is just one initiative introduced to the UEA after it received £12,000 of funding to tackle mental health problems through physical activity.
Dr Dyer said: “The social media detox could be a good thing for somebody who feels like need to step away and talk to people face to face.
“It’s a good chance to re-evaluate what you want from social media and what you use it for, but i don’t think a social media detox should be forced.”