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‘Scroll Free September’: how was it for you?

‘Scroll Free September’: how was it for you?
28 September 2018


‘Scroll Free September’: how was it for you?


An estimated 320,000 people pledged to ‘switch off’ from social media this September, with the aim of building a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media in the future.

After taking a break from all personal social media accounts over the past month, people across the UK are now being asked to reflect on what they missed, what they didn’t, and how their lives improved without social media being in their lives.

The campaign has a history of being supported by the NHS, with Claire Murdoch in her role as National Director for Mental Health, NHS England, stating: Scroll Free September is right to highlight growing concerns that social media is contributing to increasing mental health issues in young people.

“We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so that the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”


As ‘Scroll Free September’ comes to a close, Dr Steve Thomas has shared his experiences of social media, and his perspective on how reducing ‘scrolling’ can be beneficial throughout the year. Steve has been a Sheffield GP for 24 years, and is Clinical Lead for Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Dementia at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“Social media and the use of internet in general can of course be a force for good in our lives. We can develop and grow relationships, learn new things, be challenged in the way we think about things. And it can help stop one of the potential biggest emerging issues of our time – social isolation and loneliness.

“But nearly all these positive things can also lead to possible real and significant issues in life. Connectedness can lead to anxiety, the pressure to over perform and stay connected for fear of missing out. It can cause issues related to our self-image, self-worth and lead to abnormal thinking about what other people think of us.

“We are increasingly recognising how social media and the chronic use of electronic devices are affecting people’s health through deprivation of sleep, through reduction in physical activity, and through the pressures of performing, conforming and bullying.

“For this reason, appropriate, balanced and measured use of devices and social media throughout the year is key. Having reasonable boundaries that are age appropriate and help give our young people a framework to self-regulate is something we should model as adults (difficult though it can be!).

“In my household, we have used various methods including things like no tech at the dinner table, having 30 minutes of ‘wind-down’ time without technology before bedtime, and making sure that all devices are ‘docked’ in the kitchen before going to bed. We even had a fairly long season of having a screen free day a week that started as soon as the kids came home from school.

“I encourage everyone to think about whether using social media is having a detrimental effect to our mental and emotional wellbeing. Asking the question and talking about it together is a great start, and let’s lead by example whilst recognising the power for good that these whizzy apps and social connection can also bring!”

You can read more about Steve’s career here. For more information on wellbeing and social media, visit the Royal Society for Public Health webpage.


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