ABC Talent grant awarded to Tim and Sanne: the promises and perils of a digital detox

Tim van Timmeren was awarded the ABC Talent Grant in the April ’20 round of the Amsterdam Brain & Cognition Centre, UvA (PI: Sanne de Wit).  The project is entitled: The promises and perils of a ‘digital detox’: An integrated investigation of the role of craving, habits and corticostriatal pathways.

Many young adults spend 3-5 hours daily on social media and some indicate that they feel ‘addicted’, pointing to an emerging public health problem. The idea of a “digital detox” to regain control over social media use has become increasingly popular. However, the effectiveness of detox-interventions remains controversial. The promise of a detox is that it helps to break the habit, but the peril is that it could ultimately lead to intensified use as a consequence of “incubation of craving”. In this ABC Talent project, we aim to elucidate the effects of a digital detox on social media use, and the underlying mechanisms of habit and craving. During and following a detox intervention, we will apply Ecological Momentary Assessment of self-reported craving and automaticity and relate this to duration and frequency of social media use. Additionally, we will conduct an fMRI investigation of the mechanisms underlying a digital detox.