I woke up to the noise of the alarm and my dog barking outside my room door. I just needed ten more minutes before I got up, so I snuggled back into bed and cuddled with my smartphone. With one eye squinted, my ritual began by clicking on the Instagram icon, scrolling through posts followed by checking Snapchat and Facebook. Sound familiar?
A recent study suggests that the average person spends about 9 hours a day on social media and in front of digital screens. Physically this means 9 hours of blue light emitted from the screen of your device. A Harvard study has highlighted the harmful effect of blue light, which includes damage to light-sensitive cells in the retina. The damage that blue light causes resembles macular degeneration, believed to ultimately cause permanent vision loss.2 Additionally, chronic exposure to blue light before sleeping has been shown to inhibit the production of melatonin, a hormone regulating sleep and hence can lead to disruption of your circadian rhythm.3
Regardless of the negative physical effects of social media on our vision, social media has been a great source of information helping us connect, learn and educate. However, we are also regularly confronted with unpleasant information on these platforms that can cause us pain. Rationally we know what information is important but emotionally that’s not always what you take in. For example, rationally we know a lot of the images that we see on social media are photoshopped, be it the girl in the bikini or that beautiful holiday. However, emotionally we can feel envious, anxious and upset that our life is not like that of Sonam Kapoor or Kim Kardashian.
Like most people, I too have felt envious, annoyed and unhappy with my situation. Although, I often feel like this when I’m scrolling through social media, I still find myself addicted to my phone screen. During my lunch hour, coffee breaks and commute, I’m mindlessly looking at a social media platform. For my mental and physical health, I decided to embark upon a 7-day social media detox, only using my phone for making phone calls. Here’s what happened: