SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are listening to President Russell M. Nelson’s admonition to “disengage” from social media’s “worldly influence.”
In a worldwide devotional to youth Sunday night, Nelson encouraged youth to go on a seven-day “fast from social media.”
16-year-old Rylee Mackey started her social media fast on Monday, heeding the call from a man most LDS faithful consider a prophet of God.
“I think it’s way easy to get addicted,” said Rylee. “Social media was kind of taking over.” Rylee and her family take frequent breaks from their phones during the day, the teen said. The way she describes her use of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, makes social media sound like hard drugs.
“As youth today, we all want a way out of it. Deep down inside, we don’t like it,” said Rylee.
She and her sister Morgan describe the daily comparisons they make while perusing Instagram. Their mother, Leslie Mackey, expresses concern about some of the conversations she’s seen among her children’s friends, as she monitors their use.
“They say things through messages that they would never say to someone’s face,” said Leslie.
Doctors generally agree with Nelson’s recommendation to youth. Psychologists have found overuse of social media can lead to anxiety and depression, as well as withdrawal symptoms when it’s not available. Short breaks can be good, doctors said, and can eventually lead to complete “sobriety.”
Dr. Kirt Cundick, a psychologist with Intermountain Healthcare, said he was glad to hear about this fast from social media.
“[Social media overuse] is associated with kids being depressed,” said Dr. Cundick. “It might even be contributing to the suicide rate [among youth],” he added.
Last week, News4Utah spoke with Bray Hallman, a 20-year-old who shared his struggles with pornography addiction he says was brought on by his Snapchat use. He dubbed last Friday “Delete Snapchat Day.” Hallman, who is also Mormon, said Nelson’s challenge to youth was very timely. He also began a seven-day social media fast Monday.
“A break from [social media] is going to create more people reconnecting with their friends and families,” he told News4Utah Monday.