A Reflection on Digital Detox Day

Digital Detox Day, a day for everyone to switch of their phones or computers and connect with the world around them, is a campaign promoted by Zoe Sugg (YouTuber and influencer) and Jordan Stephens of “Rizzle Kicks”. The official day was held on Saturday  the 5th of September and saw celebrities across the U.K. backing the campaign and people detox from their smartphone obsessions. The campaign’s main goal was to raise awareness around mental health and the issues that can arise from too much time online. The campaign stressed that this was not a demonization of technology or social media, just an opportunity to take a step back and assess our relationships with our phones.

If I’m honest I wasn’t planning on taking part in Digital Detox Day. I thought it was a great idea, but I was going to let it just slide by much like I would National Talk Like a Pirate Day. An interesting concept but not really for me. On top of that there was the fact that Zoe Sugg (also known as Zoella) or more her content is supposedly not made for me or people my age, so was the campaign really aimed at me? Was my millennial-self meant to get involved in this particular campaign? Taking part in the day would be admitting to myself and others that I do actually consume her content on a regular basis and in fact I rather enjoy it. Was I ready to let my friends know how “uncool” I was? A lot of questioning of myself happened… Then I realised that literally nobody cared! To be honest I don’t even know if anyone cares enough to read this “reflection” either but here I am writing it anyway.

A few things convinced me to take part in Digital Detox Day:

  1. I have recently become addicted to Tik Tok to the point where hours of my life seem to disappear the moment I open the app. I am sure I am not alone in this either…
  2. The topic of mental health and mobile phone use has been appearing more and more on my social media feeds recently and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to sit back and assess my relationship with technology.
  3. The students in my older young learner class were just wrapping up a unit on technology ending with a writing task that posed the question “Could You Live Without Your Mobile Phone?”

The last reason was what really swung it for me, it seemed like a perfect way to round out the unit with my students. So on the Friday night I rewrote my lesson plan to include a discussion on mobile phone use and social media, this tied in nicely to what I had planned anyway as the homework assignment for the week was for the students to write around 150 words about the three things they couldn’t live without and also linked back to the unit we have just been studying about technology. It was a great opportunity for the students to practice giving their opinions and to talk about cyber bullying which was very briefly touched on in their previous textbook. We took part in the campaign by drawing a circle on our hands with the word “off” written in the middle and committed to staying off of social media for the rest of the day.

On Sunday, I spoke to the class about their experiences and asked them if they found it easy to stay away from social media and their phones. Some of them stuck to it, some of them forgot and one student’s phone broke so he ended up taking part whether he liked it or not!

“For me, It was easy to do because I do not use phone always. I use it when I do phone calls, text messages and something I need to know about it.” – Waddy

“It was easier than I thought because I tried things that I don’t normally do in a daily basis. I was lucky because that day none of my online shopping orders arrived, if they did arrive on that day, I might be in trouble. Anyways back to the point, I did use my phone for phone calls and text messages but I didn’t use any social media that day and I didn’t played any games that day. That day was a fun experience because I feel more open and as they said in the video “The more you are connected , you are more disconnected.” I totally felt that. To summarize all things up , I think more people should participate in the future.” – Louis

Overall I think Digital Detox Day was a great idea and I hope it sparked conversations in other classrooms about the use of social media and mobile phones in general. I would like to acknowledge that being able to choose to switch of for a day comes with a certain amount of privilege that some do not have. For many people their phone and the social media apps on it are a vital lifeline to the outside world. Without social media some people would go days without talking to anyone and the current situation has created a feeling of loneliness and isolation in many more. The idea of going out into nature and enjoying time with family is great, but not everyone has access to these things. It is a shame this was not touched upon within the campaign and I am sure it is an oversight that will be corrected if the day continues to be an annual event.

The campaign advertisement was careful in pointing out that social media, when used responsibly is a great thing. The idea of switching off for a day was not to say that we should all shun social media and our devices for the rest of time, but it did raise important awareness around the mental strain these things can have on people if we don’t keep our relationships with them in check. As someone living miles away from home I have a certain reliance on social media, both as a way for me to keep family and friends in the loop on my travels and as a way to stay connected to those back home, so I’m never going to abandon it completely. What I have done is put all of my social media apps into one folder away from my home screen and turned off my notifications from the apps themselves (minus Facebook messenger as it is the main way I communicate with people). Something I have been doing since last year is looking at the people I follow from time to time and deciding if their content is inspiring me and educating me or making me feel bad about myself and making me compare myself to others. If the account falls into the latter then I will unfollow them and it has definitely helped me to form a much healthier relationship with my phone. I haven’t found myself in a Tik Tok spiral since participating in the day, which if I’m honest, has freed up an incredible amount of time!

Read some of my previous posts:

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