Digital Detox for Teens: BBC Mimi on a Mission [review]
We were intrigued to find out about social media content creator Mimi Missfit’s new BBC iPlayer series, which investigates the need for a teen digital detox. In the series she takes seven teens from varied backgrounds (although mostly city kids) and together they camp for a week in the Cairngorms with celebrity guests joining them each day. Though the focus is placed more on nature and connection than the tech they are giving up, this show is a great first step to examine the relationships that iGen have with technology and how a digital detox for teens could potentially help them.
Are they all addicted?
We, think don’t we, that teenagers are the age group most incapable of switching off from devices? We believe that they are always distracted by likes and comments and that they can’t stop comparing themselves to those around them. This is certainly the case for some of the members of the group. Elise admits to only getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night and struggles to stay awake in school, due to her love of gaming (she has an all-time high record of 18.5 hrs on a game). She is not alone. 22% of 12-15 year olds say that watching too much TV has caused them to fall behind in their school work; another study showed that teenagers who spent more than 4 hours online per day were 3.5x more likely to get poor sleep – which is defined as less than 5 hours a night.
Yet in this group of seven are two teenagers who would seem to buck the ‘addicted teens’ trend – Shanzeh and Maddie. Shanzeh doesn’t even own a phone believing that she has enough to occupy her time without getting distracted by a phone. Maddie, on the other hand, does have a phone but doesn’t have social media believing that she doesn’t have strong enough self-confidence to manage the onslaught of negative comments.
One of the celeb guests to the digital detox for teens is Amy Hart, best known for appearing on Love Island 2019. She and Mimi Missfit have both spoken out about the impact of social media on their mental health. At the opening of the show she read one message from her Instagram DMs as an example of her daily trolling: “F*** you, I hate you and every other girl like you. F*** you and your annoying voice, fix that you sl*t.” Though she says she tries not to let it get to her, the impact that continued attacks can have on an adult, let alone teens, must surely be huge.
What about their mental health?
Throughout the week, the teen group discuss the impact of social media on their lives with many describing a mental health impact. The show even brings along a therapist, Kemi, to help them with this. From eating disorders and bad poor image amongst a few of the boys, to a fear of Islamaphobia from Shanzeh there were many reasons given for needing to switch off (or in the latter case for never logging on). However, all admit to never previously logging off and when handing in their phones were anxious to be without them, one saying: “I love it and I hate it, I want to get away but I just can’t”. We know from research studies that early half of those aged 18-34 have said that their social media feeds made them feel unattractive, so the mental health impacts for this generation are well documented.
Our favourite part about this digital detox for teens is the focus on in-person connection. The survival guide Andy says “Friends that you make outdoors are friends for life… you can’t help but make REAL relationships”. Though we would not mandate a weeks camping in order to foster true connections we cannot support this sentiment of the importance of human connection more. On this teen digital detox, the kids are able to move away from the constant need to compare and have nuanced in-depth conversations that they say are rare in the outside world. We think this show is definitely worth a watch by you or the teen in your life.
All five episodes of Mimi on a Mission: Digital Detox land on BBC iPlayer on Saturday 26 September
If you want to embark on a similar journey but don’t have time to travel to Scotland for a week, why not try our new Digital Detox Online Course? You even get 50% off until October 7th!