1. ITV Report

More than 300,00 people set to quit social media for 'Scroll Free September'

RSPB hope that those limiting use of their phone will see improvements in their mental health and sleeping patterns. Credit: PA

As many as 320,000 people in the UK are preparing for a social media free month as the first ever 'Scroll Free September' is set to get underway.

Royal Society for Public Health (RSPB) has created a campaign that encourages people to give up or cut back on their social media usage for apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for 30 days.

The education charity hope those reducing their social media intake will see a positive influence on their mental health, sleep and wellbeing.

The hashtag #ScrollFreeSeptember is being used on Twitter to encourage social media addicts to participate.

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RSPB have created a number of plans that can help those taking part to either limit or cut out their scrolling habits.

  • Cold Turkey - Participants give up all personal social media accounts for 30 days
  • Social Butterfly - Scrollers are to stop using their apps at social events
  • Night Owl - No social media after 6pm for the month
  • Busy Bee - An attempt to improve productivity by not using social media at school or work
  • Sleeping Dog - No scrolling at bedtime to help improve sleep patterns

Those taking part in the challenge can also tailor the plans to suit their lifestyle.

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said:

“Scroll Free September is about taking a break and taking notice of the aspects that may be having a more negative impact on your wellbeing – of which we know there are many – and using that knowledge to establish a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media in the future.

"Whether it’s scrolling before bed stopping you sleeping, following aspirational and unattainable accounts denting your self-esteem, or the ever-presence of phones getting in the way of your face-to-face interactions with friends and family, Scroll Free September gives us all the opportunity to identify those negative elements and cut them out for good.”

More than a third of 25-34 year olds who have heard of the campaign plan to take part. Credit: PA

A RSPH survey also revealed that almost two thirds of 18-24 year olds think taking part in the social media break would have a positive impact on them personally.

This figure comes after an NHS report revealed that the number of hospital admissions for girls aged 18 and under for self-harm had almost doubled in two decades - leaping from 7,327 in 1997 to to 13,463 in 2017.

Disruption to the body clock has been proven to increase the risk of mood disorders and depression. Credit: PA

Speaking to ITV News, Lara Ferguson, who battled anorexia and self-harm in her teens, said using social media in a negative way fuelled her mental illness.

"For me, it wasn't personally the social media that made me self harm in the first place, but when I was already in that dark place, it kind of acted as the fuel," she said.

"I'd use it in a really negative way. I was looking at hashtags around self harm and that was completely feeding into my illness."

The NSPCC said that 15,376 counselling sessions were given for those struggling with self-harm last year, which equates to 42 per day.

Child psychotherapist Louis Weinstock told ITV News that he feels there is a "clear connection" between self-harming and "the rise in smartphones, social media and digital technology."

Phone companies are also using digital detoxing as a selling point of their technology.

Apple have created a feature in new operating system iOS 12 that has a new feature called Screen Time to "reduce interruptions and manage Screen Time".

The system allows you to monitor how you use your iPhone and set yourself limits on your social media scrolling time.

Android and Pixel phones have also introduced similar features such as a "wind down" mode that helps you to focus on going to sleep, and settings that also restrict your time on certain apps.

Those who signed up for RSPH's campaign will begin their social media break from 1st September.