All I want for Christmas is a month off social media

Enjoy the moment - and give Instagram a rest.
Enjoy the moment - and give Instagram a rest. Photo: Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, I deleted the Instagram app from my phone, in an attempt to stop looking at everyone else's Christmas and focus squarely on my own. For a bit.

It's been a hard habit to break, especially in December. If you happen to have a social media inclination and children aged under 10, there really is no better scenic backdrop to recreate your very own family tableau. Like the other 800 million Instagram users each month, I'm a sucker for a photo opportunity.

My screen time has now plummeted to zero in one fell swoop, but I honestly can't say I miss it that much. Like anything remotely addictive, it has the potential to take up more time than it should, and finally my head is clear of the unceasing noise that adds precisely nothing to my daily existence.

Not to mention the extra time and attention I have for my family. Do I really want my children to grow up seeing my phone as a constant hovering presence, ready to document their every move? But it's the comparative element of social media that can bother us most, according to Katherine Ormerod, author of Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life.

"Comparing ourselves to idealised versions of each other is, scroll by scroll, overexposing us to social comparison and has a knock-on impact on life satisfaction," she says.

Where women are the most likely to overuse social media, it's not surprising that most of us feel embarrassed to admit that looking at pictures has the power to make us feel bad.

The point is that even without the 24/7 presence of a social media narrative in your pocket, the build-up to Christmas is equally wonderful and exhausting; school nativities, endlessly rewritten letters to Father Christmas, the logistical planning of who will be at home to receive the daily dump of deliveries.

Does anyone really need the added pressure dressed up as #inspiration to make us feel that our own Christmas is somehow lacking?

Pandora Sykes, journalist and co-host of The High Low podcast (with more than 258,000 followers on Instagram) puts firm boundaries around her social media use. "I delete Instagram every morning and evening, after I've posted content and had a look at what friends are up to. It prevents comparison-itis and the white noise of what everyone else is doing from clouding my brain."

This year, her first as a new mother, she has elected to go further: "I'll probably delete it for a week. I've got a tower of books I want to read. I think it's all about bespoke tailoring when it comes to social media: do what works for you."

I'm certainly hoping to reform my social media tendencies after this seasonal hiatus. We're planning to dress the tree this weekend. But old habits die hard, and I know I won't be able to resist rearranging the decorations when they go to bed. I might take a picture, too, just for me.

Telegraph, London