RSPH has launched their second annual Scroll Free September campaign. Ahead of the launch, research commissioned by RSPH has found that: 

  • Almost three in five (59%) of social media users aged 18-34 are prepared to quit for one month.
  • Those who use social media daily or more are almost two thirds (64%) more likely to have low mental wellbeing.
  • Two in five of millennials are worried about the amount of time they are spending on social media (40%), of a similar proportion also worried about the impact that it is having on their sleep.

Now in its second year, Scroll Free September 2019, supported by Silentnight, BeGambleAware’s Bet Regret campaign and leading audiobook provider, Audible, continues to offer the public the opportunity to take a break from their personal social media accounts throughout the month. Additionally, with nearly half (44%) of online gambling taking place on mobile phones , this year’s campaign encourages the public to take a break from online gambling.

The 2018 campaign met huge success, with a survey of participants finding:

  • 99% would recommend taking part in Scroll Free September to a friend, with 96% agreeing taking part it improved their relationship with social media;
  • Over three quarters (77%) said participating improved their mental health and almost two thirds (63%) said it improved their awareness of the world around them; and,
  • Over half (58%) said taking part improved their quality of sleep. 

This year’s campaign follows the publication of the RPSH and APPG on Social Media’s report, #NewFilters. Based on the groups parliamentary inquiry, the report found that although social media can have a range of positive effects: providing a platform for self-expression, enhancing social connections, and supporting learning, evidence suggested social media may be best used in moderation, with the report also revealing: 

  • Children who spend more than three hours a day using social media are twice as likely to display symptoms of mental ill health, and;
  • Pressure to conform to beauty standards perpetuated and praised online can encourage harmful behaviours to achieve “results”, including disordered eating and body shame.

Scroll Free September provides an opportunity for users to take a break from social media and online gambling platforms, to build a healthier, more balanced relationship which lasts into the future – a relationship where use is conscious and mindful, and where the user is the one in control. 

Find out more and sign up to take part in the campaign here.

Announcing the campaign, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “Following the success of Scroll Free September last year, we are delighted to announce the launch of this year’s campaign. Social media now plays a central role in the lives of so many of us. As revealed in our #NewFilters report published earlier this year, almost two thirds of young people reported social media to be a good source of health information and platforms often play a role in improving social connectivity and providing a source of emotional support. 

Despite these positives, social media can have a range of negatives effects on our mental health and wellbeing - including poor body image, low self-esteem, and often causing us to negatively compare ourselves to the, very likely filtered, lives of others. 

Scroll Free September is here to harness and promote the positives, whilst mitigating the negatives, and help users establish a meaningful relationship with social media that can last into the future – one which is balanced, and importantly, where the user is the one in control.” 

Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Media said: "Following last year's success, it's great to see that RSPH are running Scroll Free September again. Social Media has many positives, but Scroll Free September gives us all a hugely important opportunity to take both a step back and an honest look at our relationship with our phones, tablets - and social media. 
I’d encourage everyone to take a look at how they can take part this year, and to not be worried about ditching their favourite sites and apps. You don't necessarily have to go cold turkey straight away, and will be surprised how many benefits a brief digital detox can have - I certainly was.”

Supporting the campaign, Marc Etches, Chief Executive of GambleAware, said: “Developing and sustaining a healthy, safe relationship with both social media and gambling platforms is vital, but often difficult given the 24/7 access we all have to our phones. This is why we are proud to support Scroll Free September, a fantastic initiative of RSPH, which reminds all of us of the importance of taking time out and reassessing how often we use our devices, whether that’s to scroll through Twitter or Facebook or to place a bet.”  

Silentnight’s sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan said: “Social media networks are certainly contributing to mental health and sleep issues in younger people. 

It’s concerning to see just how much people are relying on social media before bed, which ultimately can have a detrimental impact on their quality of sleep. Screens on phones and tablets emit blue light which suppresses the production of melatonin from the brain’s pineal gland and stimulates the production of the chemical dopamine, which makes us feel alert and ‘switched on’.  

It’s unrealistic to completely ban mobile devices from the bedroom, but people need to be more aware of the impact they are having to achieve a better tech-life balance.

Scroll Free September is a fantastic opportunity to initiate a change in our lifestyle and reassess our relationship with technology and social media. Awareness of our time online and the effect this can have on our health can be a real eye-opener for many.”