Say Hello to Scroll Free September!

A new report, released last month by Ofcom, has suggested that the nation is in a state of ‘digital dependency’. Further stats are saying that we check our phones every 12 minutes.

“We’ve got Dry January for anyone tempted to try alcohol abstinence and Stoptober for smokers who want to quit. Now, Scroll Free September will target the use of social media” – The Guardian

Championed by The Royal Society of Public Health, Scroll Free September asks us to address this relationship with our phones. So what exactly makes social media addictive? And are you suffering the effects of addiction to your phone?

Scroll for scrolling’s sake.

In today’s society we are so connected thanks to the wonderful world wide web and technology. Ultimately, what makes social media so addictive is a subconscious fear of missing out. Every time we finish scrolling, a thought is pushed forward that asks us ‘what’s happened since I last looked?’ ‘Have I missed something?’ And not only that, but because there is so much content fighting it’s way in to our news feed (up to 1500 pieces at any one time!) then our news feed is potentially never ending…so we keep going, and going, and going. Hoping, thinking, looking for something interesting or amusing.

I recently went to a talk given by Dr Charles Kriel called The impact and influence of social media’  where he spoke about how social media companies use the principles of gambling to keep people using their sites. Watch it on Wiltshire Council’s YouTube channel. It’s really interesting.

We’ve also become addicted to the validation of our own content. Always looking to see who likes it or comments on it. That feeling of validation or social acceptance that’s delivered through a Like, a Love or a Share is what keeps us opening and closing.

It’s worth saying that overall it’s been noted the impact of phones and technology is positive. However, there are habits and behaviours that need recognising and adjusting in order to for us to reconnect with our offline lives.

Scroll Free September is really about becoming more aware of these habits and tackling them to allow for healthier relationships with our phones, ourselves and our friends and family.

The benefits of going scroll free

Improved sleep  – by giving the mind time to wind down and stop processing all the data it’s receiving we can begin to enjoy undisrupted sleep.

Improved wellbeing – find new things to do with the time you’re not online. Read (or read more), go for walks, ride your bike, have dinner with loved ones. Comedian Russell Kane has spoke openly about having counselling for his addiction to the internet. If you think you need more support and help then please talk to some one.

Improved relationships – it’s time to challenge ourselves and ask why we’re searching for likes, or so many likes. While we’re busy looking down, we’re missing out on what’s happening in front of us. Why not concentrate on getting and giving ‘likes’ from those who matter most – our nearest and dearest. A ‘like’ being a smile, a hug, a conversation or a compliment!

Top tips for cutting down on your use of social media

  • Facebook and Instagram recently announced the introduction of new tools to help combat addiction. An activity dashboard showing how long and how much time is being spent on the app. Take a look and start becoming aware of your ‘on-time’.
  • There are lots of apps out there too that can send you reminders of how long you’ve been active once you open a profile. Some can even disconnect you from your device after a specified time. I particularly like Moment.
  • Limit your app usage by setting times to use each channel. If you’re in business then set an alarm and be disciplined about not being distracted by personal notifications.
  • At bed time, turn your phone upside down and even turn the brightness down on your screen. Place it further away then next to your bed so you can’t reach for it.
  • If you run social accounts for your business, be honest. Set time limits; check in am lunch and pm, manage expectations with your audience: use auto-responders.
  • Be smarter with your time by setting out a content plan for the month ahead so you know when you need to create content and about what.
  • Take this time to have a cull of who you’re friends with or who you follow. Are they contributing to a positive space in your news feed or are they having a negative impact on how your mindset? Take time to think about that. Then use one of the many ways you can filter their content out (give me a shout if you want some help with this).
  • Make it fun – sign up with a friend and perhaps incentivise yourself.

What I’ll be doing 

I’ve already begun moving business contacts off my personal Facebook profile on to my page. Since becoming self employed I’ve noticed specific generations using Facebook like LinkedIn and I get requests all the time. As much I love everyone I meet, accepting everyone was beginning to blur the lines for me between personal and business and my news feed content was becoming more work orientated. As such, the content from those I care about most was disappearing. My Facebook profile has always been about my personal time and space where I can just be Nat, and so I’ve decided to reclaim that.

As a social media agency we won’t be neglecting our customer’s and their communities but for me personally, I’ve decided to commit to the ‘social butterfly’. This means not using social when out with friends as well as a version of ‘night owl’ and ‘sleeping dog’ combined and logging off around 8pm.

Take a look at the Scroll Free September website to see the various ways you can commit to addressing your relationship with your phone and let me know what you decide! I’d love to hear how you get on…

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