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In our society, we’re constantly on our phones. We use them when we’re at work, when we’re at home, and even when we’re on the move. Shockingly, around 660,000 drivers actually use their cell phones or other electronic devices while they drive — and if that’s not evidence of widespread smartphone addiction, then what is? If you’re looking for a way to break the endless cycle of posting, liking, and tweeting, then Scroll-Free September might be the solution for you.
Scroll-Free September, a campaign started by the U.K.’s Royal Society for Public Health, wants to encourage social media users to abandon their favorite platforms for the month in favor of activities that take place in the real world. The RSPH was inspired to launch the campaign after analyzing the results of a survey they conducted last year, which found that nearly half of social media users thought ditching social media for a month would improve their relationships, their work productivity, and their quality of sleep.
The feelings of those survey respondents are backed up by science. Studies have shown that social media use may exacerbate mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and low self-esteem. The “FOMO” is real — and it prompts many of us to feel down in the dumps when our own lives don’t compare to the curated content we see on our feeds. But one Danish study found that spending just one week away from Facebook was enough to provide a significant boost to the happiness levels of those who participated.
Of course, not everyone can quit social media completely for an entire month. If you’re job-hunting, for example, you might not be able to risk it, since 93% of recruiters look at candidates’ social media profiles. And if you have to create and post content for work, you won’t be able to escape there, either. But the RSPH has some suggestions for those who want to at least cut back on their social media and phone use. You could ban your usage during office hours in an attempt to be more productive at work or place a ban on your social media scrolling after 6 pm (or keep your phone out of your bedroom entirely!) so that you can have a more restful night’s sleep. You may even want to consider staying off social media when you’re out with friends or are at a networking event so that you’ll truly be present with others around you.
If you are able to reduce your social media scrolling, you’ll likely benefit from better sleep and even improved self-confidence. You might also be able to partake in activities you might otherwise forget about. Since fewer than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, you might consider swapping out your scrolling for a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the gym. You’ll also get to spend more quality time with friends and family — and you might even be more in-tune with what your physical and emotional needs.
It certainly won’t be an easy task. Around 64% of Americans owned an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or other Apple product in 2017 — and that means most of us have some level of phone addiction. But if you can become more conscious of your phone usage and made a concerted effort to curb it, you’ll probably find you’re a lot happier this fall. Who knows — you might even decide to stay off for good.