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Social Media Detox for Teens: Reclaiming Self-Worth in a Digital Age

woman using cellphone

Data recently collected by the Pew Research Center shows that three-quarters of teens use social media sites like YouTube every day and that around 20% use social sites “nearly constantly.” Similarly, the majority of teens say it would be hard to give up social media, even though they know it has a negative effect on their well-being. 

Unfortunately, this level of social media usage can undermine your teen’s confidence and leave them feeling less self-assured. This is a serious issue during the teenage years, as your child is more susceptible to being influenced by unrealistic beauty standards, peer pressure, and cyberbullying. 

Rather than banning social media outright, consider going on a social media detox with your teen. This will help your child reclaim their self-worth and will give them a better understanding of the potential pitfalls of overusing social media. 

Repairing Body Image

Social media can throw off your teen’s understanding of what a healthy body looks like. Sites like Instagram and YouTube perpetuate unrealistic beauty and body standards in the form of ultra-lean fitness influencers and airbrushed models. This can weigh heavily on teens, who are likely experiencing things like acne and changing bodies. Other body issues that social media can perpetuate include: 

  • Pressure to lose weight

  • Exposure to rapidly changing trends

  • Distortion of features

  • Negative and unrealistic comparisons

A digital detox can help your teen understand the pressure that social media may have put on them. By taking a step away from the screen, your child is much more likely to have the energy they need to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle. This can reduce the risk of your child developing body dysmorphia and will help them feel at home in their own skin. 

As part of the digital detox, consider doing something healthy and active with the time that your teen usually spends on social media. For example, if your kid enjoys playing sports, consider putting together a workout program that will help their athletic performance and complete it together. Or, if they struggle to eat well, consider cooking balanced meals with one another. This will strengthen your bond and help take their mind away from social media. 

By engaging in health-boosting activities, you can improve your child’s self-worth and help them reclaim a sense of control over how they feel. This can be empowering if your kid is low on confidence but doesn’t understand why they are feeling low. By eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, you can help your child become the best version of themselves. 

Sleep and Digital Detoxes

Overusing social media is linked with poor sleep quality. This makes sense, as light from phones disrupts sleep patterns. If your kid is on social media until the wee hours, their body will not produce melatonin. This will throw their circadian rhythm off cycle and lead to disrupted nights. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to keep scrolling before bed and few teens have the self-control to put the phone down when they should be sleeping. 

Help your child get a better night’s sleep by digital detoxing every evening. Rather than watching TV shows and scrolling on social sites, lock up the whole family’s phones and have everyone read books or listen to calming music. This prepares the body for bed and helps your child rediscover their natural sleeping pattern. 

You’re likely to encounter some resistance when trying to take your child’s phone away. Make it easier on them by leading by example. Remove your own phone from anywhere it is easily accessible and give them plenty of activities to engage with. This may mean you all gather around the table for a board game, or that you spend the late evening getting on with a few easy-going chores. The idea is to create a calming environment that aids sleep and helps your teen wind down for the evening. 

By foregrounding the importance of sleep, you can help your child feel energized and improve their mental sharpness. Getting enough sleep can improve your kid’s mental health, too, as folks who sleep 7 - 9 hours can handle stress more effectively and are more resilient when faced with anxiety and depression. 

Confidence Building 

Most teens who overuse social media are low on confidence. To them, social media offers an escape from the real world and can help them connect with their friends. In some ways, sites like Snapchat can help teens express their creativity and may even enjoy connecting with friends over a shared snap. 

When going on a social media detox with your teen, plan activities that will boost their confidence and help them feel comfortable in their own skin. This might include activities like: 

  • Journaling together 

  • Play video games and sports together, and highlight the fact that it’s ok to fail

  • Go on walks together 

  • Volunteer at a local charitable organization 

  • Go camping and encourage them to set up camp for your family 

These steps build your teen's confidence and help them practice resilience. They will require some planning on your end but are a great way to fill the void that social media leaves behind while on a digital detox. 


Digital detoxes can help your teen reclaim their self-worth in the digital age. Time away from social media can repair their body image and help them feel more comfortable in their own skin. Just be sure to lead by example by joining in the digital detox and setting up some engaging activities like journaling, camping, or playing board games together.



Theo Owen
Theo Owen
3 days ago

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