DMU – taking a break from social media

This month, De Montfort University in Leicester took a bold – but kind of cool – move. 

Between 16th and 21st January, DMU made the decision to take a break from all of its usual social media channels.  Why?  To encourage its staff and students to follow its example and take part in a ‘digital detox’, giving back the opportunity to focus their energies elsewhere. 

With 21st January designated as this year’s Blue Monday, the university was keen to take the social media bull by the horns.  Blue Monday is said to be the most depressing day of the year – bad enough for most; even worse for those already struggling with mental health issues.  So the university set aside those few days before 21st as its time to digitally detox.

The Vice-Chancellor of the university had established, through many conversations with students, the negative impact overuse of social media was having on their mental health. 

These days, social media is simply a way of life for many.  Never has it been easier to catch up with friends and family, learn about the latest trends and stay up-to-date with hot news topics.  It’s so simple to access but equally easy to get carried away, spending hours upon hours reading online content.  Social media has its place and many of us may feel lost without the convenience of it all.  However, using it to excess, can start to pose problems when other things are deprioritised. 

So, during these few days in January, the university organised a variety of activities for staff and students alike.  The activities were carefully picked to fit around the five pillars of wellbeing: connect, be active, take notice, learn and give.  Individuals were given the chance to take part in library events, tai chi sessions, mindfulness meditation and free gym classes to name but a few.

DMU’s idea started as a semi-experiment.  How would people feel getting more time back in their day to do other things?  How much more productive could they be?  Did they realise how long they had actually been spending on social media?

I gave it a go myself and was really surprised at how hard it was.  No Facebook.  No Instagram.  No Twitter.  To be honest, it was a shock to the system.  But at the same time I found it a very cleansing experience.  And I really did have time to go and do other things!  In fact I was pretty amazed at how much time I had back for myself.  And I saw a new improved focus on my studies too!

A complete detox may not be for everyone.  Social media is addictive so, like any addiction, the habit is hard to break and going cold turkey could actually have damaging effects.  But by just becoming more aware of the time spent on social media could cause a positive change in many.

I’m personally really thankful to the university for coming up with the initiative.  I’m not saying I could give up social media for good.  For me, social media has its place but the rest of my life needs a look-in too!

To find out more visit : https://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2019/january/digital-detox-video.aspx

#HealthyDMU

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