Simon Heyes, from digital marketing agency novel

Simon Heyes from digital marketing agency novel, who are supporting Scroll Free September for the second year, highlights some tips for meaningful use and intent when it comes to social media.

Since the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, there has been a revolution in the way we communicate online and with one another. At the same time as the smartphone boom grew social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat began to soak up our screen time. We connected with people we hadn’t seen in years. Old colleagues, school friends and old flames. Social media – in all its freshness – became the number one online activity, globally.

Let’s be honest, technology is incredible. The fast pace to which we’ve adapted to our new mobile-connected bubbles is fascinating, and the vast majority of humankind have been beneficiaries of it.

But the experience of all that time online is not uniform. On one hand it has allowed businesses and relationships to flourish, and on the other, the more some people use their phones, the more they become frustrated and stressed with them.

Technology giveth; and technology taketh away.

Facebook and Instagram now let you track your screen time, and whilst that is a good step forward, they won’t stop you from browsing and liking, or force you to dig into the Settings menu to reduce your time limit. You need willpower to cut yourself off.

Did you know, from the last major survey back in 2016, more active smartphone users touch their smartphone on average 5,427 times a day? That's 2 million times per year.

The big question we should be asking ourselves is ‘why’. Why am I unlocking my phone for the 5,000th time today?

Active users touch their phones on average 5427 times a day


And the answer is related to intent.

In the vast majority of cases, we’re unlocking our phone because it buzzed, or we got a notification telling us an app needs urgent attention. That means we’re guided by technology, putty in the palm of our smartphone's hands (ah, the irony). We need to make technology work for us, not the other way around.

So, where do you start? Here are a few tips to help you redesign the relationship with your phone.

  1. Disable Your Notifications – turn off push notifications. That means you’re in control of when you check your different apps, not your phone
  2. Manage Your Tech Time – it might sound odd but establishing time habits are a great step forward in regaining control over your phone. For example, set specific time to check your emails or scroll through Insta Stories.
  3. Leave Your Phone Outside Your Bedroom – if you’re taking part in Scroll Free September, you might be taking on the Night Owl challenge. If you struggle with screen time in the evening, maybe leave your phone on charge overnight in another room
  4. Track Your App Usage – there are several different apps out there now for iOS and Android that allow you to track your screen time and app usage, allowing you to observe the time you spend on different apps

Having a meaningful intent every time you unlock your phone suggests you have control over your smartphone and screen time. But just like fitness, it won’t happen overnight. It takes time to get ‘phone fit’, but stick at it, and make technology work for you.

Why Are Novel Supporting Scroll Free September?

We’re a digital marketing company. We manage social media campaigns for brands, so why would we encourage people to stop using personal social media accounts and potentially impact our campaigns?

Because there is a bigger picture, here.

Health is one of the most important things in life, and if we keep going the way we’re going with screen time and social media, it is going to severely affect the generations after us. Whilst social media and screen time in general is important to us, so is the mental health and wellbeing of those that use social media and other apps that keep users glued to their screens all day.