The first thing I do when I wake up and the last thing I do before I go to bed is check my favorite app, Snapchat. Its familiar notification sound always prompts me to open the app immediately, leading me down a rabbit hole of sending streaks and watching stories.
When I checked the statistics of my daily time on Snapchat, I was shocked to see I spend an average of two hours a day on it. It became clear to me that this was an addicting app that took up too much of my time. I was looking forward to a week without Snapchat so I could see all of its impacts on my life.
The first day was the hardest. I woke up and immediately went to the app because checking it is always the first part of my morning routine. My thumb hovered over the yellow ghost as I reminded myself that I made a commitment to not use the app.
With each new notification that popped up, I felt more compelled to open Snapchat. I debated giving up and just using it for the week, but I had to remind myself that it would be a good learning experience once the process had ended.
At first, I had planned to not delete the app because it made me feel disconnected not knowing who was contacting me. However, as the first day progressed, I realized the only way I would get through the week was if I deleted it from my phone. As soon as I did, I felt like I was going to be out of the loop in my social life.
I realized how much I rely on Snapchat to keep in touch with my friends. Group chats, streaks and private stories are my main ways of staying connected. Most of my plans are made through Snapchatting as well.
I spent the first few days off the app asking my friends to show me stories I missed. It felt necessary to stay up to date on social media. I feared that I was missing out on the messages I didn’t see or what my Snapchat group chats were talking about.
As the week progressed, I began to notice how my phone usage decreased not only for Snapchat, but for all of my apps. Without constant notifications, I rarely picked up my phone. I was more focused when doing my work and actually saw myself completing my homework faster than usual. The time I was spending scrolling through Snapchat was now opened up for more productive activities, such as running and writing.
Additionally, I realized I wasn’t missing out socially. I caught up with my friends every day at school, and during the weekend I communicated with them through texts and phone calls. I didn’t miss sending streaks every day because I was having more meaningful conversations with people face to face. Surprisingly, I found myself feeling more connected with my friends than I did when I was using Snapchat.
When the week ended, I wish I could say I didn’t redownload the app, but I did. However, I did not feel rushed to download it and I went into my settings to limit my time usage per day. I changed my time to 30 minutes a day and turned off the app’s notifications.
My week without Snapchat showed me the core problems of social media and how time consuming it really is. My overall feelings of less stress, making true connections and being more productive led me to make changes that I hope will motivate others to evaluate their usage of Snapchat, too.
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