‘Dig­i­tal detox’ time?

As a na­tional cam­paign called Scroll Free Septem­ber con­tin­ues, would a dose of ‘dig­i­tal detox’ do you good? hears why tak­ing a break from so­cial me­dia is per­haps worth con­sid­er­ing.

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS -

If you are read­ing this ar­ti­cle via an elec­tronic mo­bile de­vice, then there’s a fair chance that, un­less you have iron will power, you are not one of the 320,000 peo­ple in the UK thought to have com­mit­ted them­selves to a so­cial me­dia-free month as part of the first ever Scroll Free Septem­ber.

The Royal So­ci­ety for Pub­lic Health (RSPH), which has cre­ated the cam­paign, in­sists it isn’t about quit­ting so­cial me­dia for good – un­less peo­ple want to.

In­stead, the ed­u­ca­tion char­ity hopes that by re­duc­ing use of apps such as Face­book, Twit­ter and Instagram for 30 days, par­tic­i­pants will see a pos­i­tive in­flu­ence on their men­tal health, sleep and well­be­ing.

The idea fol­lows sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives aimed at ab­stain­ing from other ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing Dry Jan­uary when peo­ple avoid drink­ing al­co­hol and Stop­to­ber when smok­ers try to quit.

Em­pha­sis­ing the cam­paign still al­lows par­tic­i­pants to use in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to avoid so­cial me­dia apps for work pur­poses, RSPH chief ex­ec­u­tive Shirley Cramer 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 ev­er­p­res­ence 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.”

When writ­ing this ar­ti­cle – and all in the name of re­search of course – a quick look at my so­cial me­dia feeds sug­gests not that many of my Face­book ‘friends’ are tak­ing part in the cam­paign.

I dis­cover “im­por­tant” nuggets of in­for­ma­tion such as the fact a neigh­bour I barely know was on her hon­ey­moon 10 years ago, that an­other for­mer neigh­bour has heard ‘Night Swim­ming’ by REM twice over the week­end, while – per­haps more im­por­tantly, I’ve been sent a mes­sage ask­ing me to name my ‘Favourite Dundee United player of all time!’

Maybe the ap­par­ent lack of en­gage­ment with the cam­paign among my so­cial me­dia fol­low­ers is an age thing: an RSPH sur­vey sug­gests more than a third of peo­ple in the younger 25 to 34-year-old age bracket who had heard of the cam­paign planned to take part.

The so­cial me­dia story has al­ways been a dou­bleedged sword

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

This fig­ure comes af­ter an NHS re­port re­vealed 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 13,463 in 2017.

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 psy­chother­a­pists say there is a clear con­nec­tion be­tween self-harm­ing and the rise in smart­phones, so­cial me­dia and dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.

Ryan Locke is a lec­turer in the Di­vi­sion of Games and Arts at Aber­tay Univer­sity in Dundee and teaches stu­dents how to utilise so­cial me­dia in the dig­i­tal econ­omy.

He said the so­cial me­dia story has al­ways been a “dou­ble-edged sword” – and con­tin­ues to be so.

He said: “The pros and cons of so­cial me­dia have been made in­creas­ingly clear as re­search re­veals how plat­forms have im­pacted on us.

“The ef­fects are seem­ingly ubiq­ui­tous.

“The last few years of po­lit­i­cal wind­change may have made many of us pay more at­ten­tion to how so­cial me­dia, despite its ben­e­fits, can be used to sew di­vi­sion, abuse data, or ex­ploit our bi­ases.

“Scroll Free Septem­ber provides an in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to ex­per­i­ment with giv­ing up so­cial me­dia for a short time and to re­flect on their re­la­tion­ship with it.

“This may pro­vide par­tic­i­pants with some per­spec­tive to dis­cover if they can or can­not live with­out it, or if they can im­prove as­pects of their in­ter­per­sonal life by us­ing it less.

“The ‘dig­i­tal detox’ is a move­ment that has gained pop­u­lar­ity, with peo­ple in­creas­ingly seek­ing to dis­con­nect from the ever-present na­ture of the in­for­ma­tion age.

“The so­cial me­dia story has al­ways been a dou­ble-edged sword, with many new ways to com­mu­ni­cate, rally and col­lab­o­rate.

“But there was al­ways a cost, and there is now some doubt and a feel­ing we are be­ing watched.

“If you find Scroll Free Septem­ber ap­peal­ing, it is per­haps worth con­sid­er­ing. If you find it un­ap­peal­ing, then per­haps, you’re the very per­son who needs to try it more than you re­alise.

“Ei­ther way, you can learn some­thing about your­self.”

Aber­tay Univer­sity lec­turer Ryan Locke said peo­ple are be­com­ing aware of some of the pit­falls of so­cial me­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.