It’s Scroll Free September

By Jess Warren

We are just over one week into the month, and over one week into ‘Scroll Free September’, a campaign launched by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) that aims to help people rediscover a balance between their life and social media usage.

If you’re anything like me, in the evening when I like to stick on a film or catch-up on Bake Off, I still find myself sat on the sofa scrolling through my phone. Flicking from Instagram, to Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat and then back again to start the cycle. I just can’t stop my hand from clinking on those glowing symbols with red notifications.

Scroll Free September has been created to help people take a break from their social media accounts, and is not just aimed at young people, but everybody. Following on from RSPH’s #StatusOfMind report in 2017, the negative effects of social media were found to include anxiety, depression, cyberbullying, negative body image, poor sleep patterns and FOMO (the fear of missing out).

With so many of us uploading our every move onto social media, first in the form of snapchat stories, then Instagram stories, and maybe even a Facebook update every now and again, we can always see what people are up to.

Whilst these platforms have revolutionised the way we communicate, connect with one another and share information, they can very easily become a constant cloud over our minds and overwhelm those that don’t think they’re having quite as much fun as others.

What is interesting about a lot of social media sites are that they become an echo chamber. They learn our browsing preferences and then provide us with related images or posts. They learn what we like and reproduce it, so much so, that we are no longer viewing reality. Instead, it is a targeted algorithm, or indeed the collection of people you follow, and the similar attitudes and views they have to you, that cultivate what you see online.

It is thought that by taking a break from social media sites for a month, you can reflect on your personal consumption. What have you missed? What did you not miss so much, and why do you think that was? And how did you fill your time instead?

By taking a timeout from social media, we can reflect on its influence over our lives. What’s interesting about RSPH’s campaign is that they’ve put together five different ways this could be tackled. A brilliant way of eradicating the excuses as to why we can’t give up on social media, they’ve got a suggestion for everyone.

The biggest of tasks is the ‘cold turkey’, giving up all social media accounts for 30 days, then it gets progressively easier. The ‘social butterfly’ could aim to give up the use of social media when they are out seeing friends and family, the ‘night owl’ could stop their social media consumption by 6pm each evening, the ‘busy bee’ would stop using these apps whilst they’re at work, and finally the ‘sleeping dog’ would stop using social media when they’re in their bedroom.

All of these different variations have been created to suit a range of individuals, and if you’re still curious about how much time you really spend on your phone, this month Apple released a new feature called ScreenTime which allows the user to monitor how much they’re using their phone, and to set limits.

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