Digital detox is not new but more and more savvy millennials are trying it . Should communications professionals be worried?
A wonderful article in Influence magazine this month by Alexander Garrett set me thinking about the trend to try digital detox. It is not new, but it’s becoming mainstream as Britain takes mental health more seriously and rightly so. He quotes research by Ofcom showing that digital dependency is widespread; 40% of adults look at their phone within 5 minutes of waking in the morning, with 65% of people under 35 doing so. On average we check our phones every 12 minutes. The case for an occasional break is compelling.
In 2015 I organised a communications campaign for a client in the holiday sector called “screen free breaks”. An inspirational, outdoors-loving family tried this for several weekends in different locations that summer. Local radio and news websites got behind the campaign. The family hardly missed TV, games and social media by the second day. They enjoyed outdoors fun. When it rained they played cards and board games. The children learnt to cook. That was novel then, but now many people, especially millennials, are taking a break from social media and the online world.
As communications professionals, this is a challenge. Part of our job is often to manage the social media lives of our brands. If the all important millennial audience is taking a break, how do we respond? Less posting, more listening, better and more compelling content. More careful choice of social channel. I have noticed millennials are becoming more discerning here. They have two or three favoured channels now, they don’t try to keep up with all of them.