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Gen Zer says he’s never felt better after taking digital detox

“I wish more people could understand the impact it has on your brain."

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Ilias Michael. (Ilias Michael via SWNS)

By Flora Bowen via SWNS

A Gen Zer addicted to the endless scroll of social media said his health and life dramatically improved when he quit it all in a digital detox.

Ilias Michael, 17, a podcast producer, said he has never felt better.

The teen, from Lostwithiel, Cornwall, England said combining this with meditation has also helped his ADHD and improved his mental health - and led to a better social life.

Ilias said he used to be an online addict but now only has Instagram on his phone to use for work and WhatsApp for messaging friends and family,

He said while it was sometimes hard not always following the same social media trends as his friends, the experience has helped him appreciate life more.

He added: "I know, through experience, that using social media you get sucked into the endless scroll.


"Many people don’t understand the negative impact it can have on their lives, but I personally know it’s not ideal for me."

Ilias still uses social media for his professional online profiles, which include making music and co-producing a podcast with his mom, Laura Jane Williams.

He recently left a music production apprenticeship to pursue his career plans of freelancing and making money online - while staying off social media.

He added: “Back in the 2020 lockdown, going on social media was all I did. I can tell you from that experience it is the worst thing you can do for your mental health.

“It was a dark time, I felt completely worthless. Obviously social media wasn’t the only thing that made it so bad, but it was a big factor when I was 15.

“I would be on social media for hours each day. I was going on Instagram seeing jacked dudes who are super ripped, which made me feel bad. It’s all the stuff people say you shouldn’t look at, but it’s really hard to stop."

He said after ending all personal use, social media to him was now "nothing more than a business tool."

He added: "It’s a tricky one, because I don’t like using it, but it is essential to my work, as it is vital to market myself online.

“I wish more people could understand the impact it has on your brain.

“Scrolling through social media, every new post creates another spark of dopamine, which seems fun, but it doesn’t last and there’s hardly any effort put into getting that hit.

“After a certain amount of time, without that spark of dopamine everything seems boring - people can’t read a book or go for a walk because it seems flat in comparison.

“Personally, the more social media I use the less motivated I am to improve myself, to slow down and enjoy the little things in life.

“Sometimes you will find you open the app without even thinking - ‘yo I did not choose to do this.'"

Ilias quit social media when he started meditation in 2021.

“Deleting social media is good but what motivated me to continue to stay off it it is meditating.

“When I started meditating and started being mindful and living in the moment, I realized that social media is the opposite of being mindful.


“I started realizing that life is good without random posts of random people

“Now I try to meditate every day and it really helps me stay focused and off social media.”

“The only app I have downloaded is Instagram, which I use for work. I have a Facebook profile and WhatsApp but it’s just for messaging.

“Now I use my phone for 1-2 hours a day, which might still seem high, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.

“The majority of that time I spent messaging people."

Ilias said he was initially most worried about the social aspect of giving it up.

He added: "But then I realized that if I’m really friends with them I’ll have their phone numbers anyway, so now when I speak to my friends it’s over the phone or text.

“Giving up social media has a positive impact on friendships.

“Now I think I have better friendships.

“I will meet up with friends and go for a walk. Some people my age will think that’s weird, but I’m very grateful for being in the moment like that, by myself or with a friend.

“I really enjoy being present with the little things. Sometimes when I’m out on a walk I’ll see a leaf and be like, yo that’s a great leaf. You know?


“With social media you’re never in the present moment, you’re in someone else’s life or a time in the past or the future.

“I still use digital tools for specific work purposes. For example I edit videos for the podcast, and I use social media just to promote the podcast.

“Why would you need social media when you can produce music? It’s amazing!”

Ilias was diagnosed with ADHD and said reducing his social media usage has helped him manage this condition.

He added: "With ADHD social media is especially enticing, because of the element of instant distraction, so reducing it from your life will have incredible benefits.

“I can concentrate much more easily now.

“Growing up with the internet, it’s ingrained as a part of your identity and personality. So it’s really hard to separate it from yourself.

“I do worry about the new generations below me, because it’s even worse for them. They’ll just think social media and being on screens all the time is a part of life and a necessity.

“To other people in Gen Z, I want to say, just try to go out for a walk, stop being on social media so much. Try meditation, try living in the moment more."

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