We have accepted that none of us can leave the house without our phones. After all, they have turned into so much more than texting and calling machines: we can pay in shops and restaurants, write lists, plan budgets, capture photos and connect with people all over the world using social media.
So yes, we all know our phones have unashamedly become our lifelines. But what had started to creep in was the (some would say) unnecessary scrolling through social media for hours on end, even if it started as a few harmless minutes to kill time.
There are huge benefits of social media, but the proven negative side effects on sleep, stress, mood, self-esteem and productivity can’t be ignored. After we realised the dependence we have on social media and how our increased usage of the apps had just become the norm, we decided that taking part in The Royal Society of Public Health’s Scroll Free September initiative was the best way to see how addicted we really were… or are.
The aim of the month was to take a break from all personal social media accounts for the duration of September to get some balance back in our lives. With different levels to choose from – we were split between Cold Turkey (no social media at all) and Night Owl (no social media after 6pm) – it was a challenge we were ready to face!
Here’s how we found it:
The first few days were really difficult. I was surprised at just how much I caught myself reaching for my phone in the ad breaks, when putting the kettle on or while preparing dinner. Ignoring notifications also proved a mental challenge, who was it and why had they tagged me? What life event were they sharing? Shouldn’t I respond straight away to avoid being rude? I stood firm and ignored the notifications. What this taught me was that the alerts I receive really aren’t vital. Most of them were related to groups or someone who hadn’t posted in a while putting up a picture, nothing that couldn’t be looked at later.
This experiment really made me step back and take a look at my phone use. I did miss the social interaction during the evenings, especially if I was home alone, but ultimately it gave me the time to do other things. I finally picked up the book I was given last Christmas and am now over 200 pages in, I kept on top of household chores so that the weekends weren’t consumed by them and rang old friends to have a proper catch up. Will I be permanently refraining from social media after 6pm? No. Will I be reducing my use? Absolutely, the benefits were too great to ignore.
Initially, I thought that not using social media after 6pm would be hard enough, as that was the time I used it the most. But I was shocked at how easy it was for me to absentmindedly reach for my phone, click on Instagram and just start scrolling.
After two days of catching myself doing this, I decided the best way forward was to go Cold Turkey and delete the apps from my phone completely. Yes, it was hard at first, but after a while I forgot about my scrolling habits altogether. However, what I did find difficult was not having a clue what my friends and family around the world were getting up to. I found other ways to keep in contact but I missed not seeing the odd snaps here and there.
It was a break I really needed and I’ve learned to get better at catching myself now, so I’m definitely going to reduce how often I go on social media from now on.
Did you take part in #ScrollFreeSeptember or do you find yourself getting addicted to social media? Tweet us @NeoPRLtd.