Students commented on the effects of quitting Facebook, which seems to have taken up more time than they realised.Louis Ashworth

Student Minds Catz, St Catharine’s College’s subsection of student-led charity Student Minds Cambridge, has started a campaign for students, Digital Pause, urging participants to assess the relationship between social media and their wellbeing.

The Digital Pause began on Monday 5th February, and will run for one week. Students can choose to participate on varied levels, with three tiers of participation available; tier one is simply ‘restricted use’, while tier three is a ‘complete pause’.

On all three tiers, text messaging, calling, email, and internet use for non-social media purposes is permitted, and differ only in the levels of social media usage allowed. Tier one includes daily limit of social media usage per day, whereas tier two, labelled ‘Essentials only’ allows social media usage only for essential society and event planning, in addition to essential communication with friends and family. Tier three, the ‘complete pause’, does not allow any form of social media usage.

On their Facebook page before the event, the charity encouraged people to “join us in switching off from the internet”, and to change their profile picture to the Digital Pause image. 25 students are taking part, mostly from St Catharine’s, but also from several other colleges.


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St Catharine’s student Mel Craig told Varsity that her “experience so far with Tier 2 of the Digital Pause has been generally positive, but that’s likely to be because I’ve been very relaxed with it. I think [this] is key - it’s so important [not to] see social media as an inherently bad thing.

“The endless scrolling for me was what made me want to give it a go; I love using Instagram to follow body-positive bloggers or users who are just sharing feel-good content, but the time I spend procrastinating by scrolling through my Facebook timeline, which generally consists of weird videos my friend’s friend’s friend has tagged someone in, is time that could be spent doing more self-care stuff that doesn’t make my brain feel so fuzzy.”

She said that she “struggled” when she was ill as the scheme began, “but I wasn’t including Netflix in my pause so that saved the day.

“It’s too early to say if it’s changed my habits, but I think it will be a really good stepping-stone to my broader goal of confining my social media use to certain parts of the day. I always need access to my Facebook because of society stuff, but I’d prefer to save using it for leisure for after I’ve done stuff that has a longer-term impact on my wellbeing.

“Again, social media can be so healthy and in fact such a lifeline when you’re struggling with your mental health in helping you feel connected with others, even when you can barely get yourself out of bed. But, I know my personal use was becoming unhealthy, which is why I decided to take part.”


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Speaking to Varsity, another student Lavinia Lavizani, who is at Magdalene, said: “Ultimately the pause wasn’t so bad. I generally use Facebook and other social media as a means for contact, so [scrolling casually] isn’t really an issue. I don’t miss anything and I think it’s been good with regards to [living] presently and focusing on present circumstances.”

Carolyn Irvine, one of the event organisers from Student Minds Catz, told Varsity: “We hope this is an enlightening experiment for the participants to assess their relationship with social media and how it affects their wellbeing!

“Another element to the scheme is trying to use the time we would spend on our phones and computers doing something towards our self-care. For me, I’m spending more time on non-university reading. So far, I’m really enjoying it.”

The scheme is “about the relationship between mental health and social media, and ties into the Student Minds Cambridge campaign, Me, Self-Care and I. Over the course of the term there are loads of other events going on focused around self-care, so stay tuned!”

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