Two thirds of young adults expect to benefit as first ever Scroll Free September kicks off tomorrow

Across the UK, thousands of social media users are gearing up for the start of the first ever mass-participation social media-free month, Scroll Free September, which kicks off tomorrow (1 September 2018).

The campaign, organised by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and sponsored by Silentnight, asks people to give up or cut back use of their personal social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for one month, with the intention that the experience will have a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.

Participants can choose to go completely Cold Turkey, or just stop using social media at selected times, such as in the bedroom or at social events, while other phone use such as instant messaging is still allowed.

Based on public polling, RSPH estimates that as many 320,000 people in the UK may be planning on taking part in the inaugural campaign. However, the campaign has also attracted widespread international interest, with participants from 56 countries across five continents already signed up to receive tips and advice through the official campaign website.

Polling carried out on behalf of RSPH on the eve of the campaign also found that:

  • More than a third (34%) of 25-34 year olds who have heard of the campaign plan to take part.
  • More than a third (34%) of the public think taking part would have a positive impact on them personally, rising to almost two thirds (63%) of 18-24 year olds.
  • More than two in five 18-24 year olds (41%) think their parents would benefit from taking part, while more than half (55%) think their siblings would benefit.
  • More than a third (35%) of people in a relationship, as well as almost half (45%) of 25-34 year olds, think their partner would benefit from taking part.
  • Among the 10 most followed celebrities on social media, Kim Kardashian-West is the one the highest number of people (28%) would like to see take part in Scroll Free September.

    Find out more about the different ways of participating and sign up to take part in the campaign at

    Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “When used in the right way, social media can have a lot of real positives for mental health and wellbeing, including improving social connectivity and providing a source of emotional support. We want to harness and promote those positives, so Scroll Free September certainly isn’t about quitting social media for good.

    “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.”

    Endorsing the campaign, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “Having just completed my own ‘digital detox’ for August I wholeheartedly endorse RSPH’s ‘Scroll Free September’ campaign. My scroll free August wasn’t easy but I certainly feel I benefited from taking a break.

    “RSPH’s significant research has confirmed that many young people believe their anxiety, body-image concerns and sleeping difficulties are worsened by considerable social media use. We can no longer ignore the impact excessive social media use and addiction is having on the mental health and wellbeing of so many in our communities. I congratulate RSPH for launching this campaign which I know will influence all those who, like me, are determined to improve the health and wellbeing of every child.”

    Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national director for mental health, said: “Scroll Free is right to highlight growing concerns that social media is contributing to increasing mental health issues in young people and a major ramp up of services will be needed to deal with the problems as part of the NHS long-term plan. We need to see concerted action, with everyone taking responsibility, including social media giants, so the NHS is not left to pick up the pieces of a mental health epidemic in the next generation.”

    Supporting the announcement of Scroll Free September last month, Chris Elmore MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing, said: “Scroll Free September is a great opportunity to take a break from social media. Many of us are guilty of becoming consumed by social media and whilst there are many benefits to using the various platforms which are available, it’s important to take some time out. I’d highly encourage everyone to get involved in this initiative – there are several different ways to do so to suit everyone. So please do take a look and see what benefits it brings to your everyday life.”

    Victoria Prentis MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG, added: “I am really pleased that I am able to lend my support to Scroll Free September. I am an active user of social media, given my role as a Member of Parliament so I am sure the first few days of the blackout will be a challenge. However, as the mother of teenagers I am only too aware of the negative impact social media can have on the mental health and wellbeing of children these days. Initiatives like Scroll Free September provide a welcome opportunity for users to reflect and to build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media. I would encourage my constituents to get behind the campaign too!”

    Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert from Scroll Free September sponsors Silentnight, said: “Social networks are definitely causing a heightened feeling of FoMO, particularly with the younger generation who are so used to seeing their social lives played out online.

    “It’s quite concerning to see just how much people are using social media at night time. The impact on sleep is particularly concerning. It’s proven that the blue light from phones and tablets wakes up the brain making it difficult to wind down and fall asleep. So punctuating the night with social media checks is a recipe for disaster if you want to sleep well.

    “As a sleep deprived nation we’d do well to limit the amount of time we are spending on social media. Scroll Free September is a great chance to initiate this change in lifestyle and reassess our social media use.”

  • Written by Safeguarding Essentials on August 31, 2018 13:37

    The Duke of Cambridge launches Cyberbullying Taskforce

    The Duke of Cambridge will convene a new industry-led taskforce to support young people and their families affected by cyberbullying.

    Cyberbullying TaskforceHis Royal Highness has asked tech entrepreneur Brent Hoberman CBE to chair the group, with support for this ambitious project from The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.

    Over the next year, The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying will bring together industry partners and a group of advisors from the sector to develop an industry-wide response to the online bullying of young people, with a focus on 12-14 year olds.

    A spokesman for The Duke of Cambridge said:

    "This is an issue that The Duke feels strongly about. He knows that social media and other technologies are creating significant positive opportunities for millions of young people. But as a parent, he knows that many people worry about how to protect their children from the new avenues for bullying that technology is creating. He hopes the taskforce can help the industry share the best practice that is emerging across the sector and put in place new standards so that the internet remains something young people and their parents can embrace with confidence."

    Studies suggest that some 35% of 11-17 year olds have experienced some form of cyberbullying during their lives, and 40% have witnessed cyberbullying within a social network they use. Cyberbullying, in common with other forms of bullying, can have a detrimental effect on the mental health of children and young people. The effect of technology means the impact of bullying is instantly multiplied through social networks, and can feel harder for young people to escape.

    While most social platforms and service providers do have systems in place for reporting or removing abusive content, there is no common industry standard or commitment to tackle the issue, nor is there an existing single repository of information for users on how to address it.

    The taskforce will take existing models of good practice for reporting abusive content on individual networks and develop a set of commitments for the industry to sign up to, to collectively tackle the issue. It will consider the development of a single resource of up to date practical support and information for young people affected by cyberbullying, with advice on how to get help. It will also work to help parents and adults to better understand cyberbullying, and give them the confidence to find appropriate help and resources to support children affected by the issue.

    Full membership of the taskforce will be announced soon, but will include leading figures from technology companies and internet service providers. The taskforce will also be supported by a panel of young people aged 11-15, to ensure it remains engaged in current online trends.

    Brent Hoberman CBE said:

    "This Taskforce will bring together the commitment, talent and expertise of the technology industry to tackle Cyberbullying and the terrible effect it has on children. The future of our children is inextricably linked with the Internet. It is our responsibility to ensure that they grow up confident and happy online so that they can make the most of the extraordinary potential it offers."

    Written by Safeguarding Essentials on May 19, 2016 11:34

    Three quarters of 10-12 Year-olds have underage social media accounts

    Latest report from BBC Newsround reports 3/4 of children aged 10-12 have a social media profile

    ChatFOSS Screen GrabPut simply 75% of children are breaking legal terms and conditions, a shockingly high number. As we know once the 50% mark is reached it is very difficult for parents not to bow to peer pressure as they do not want their children to miss out or be labelled as “uncool”. The problem is self perpetuating resulting in such high levels of young children using age inappropriate apps. Why is it that in the online world such terms and conditions are just blithely ignored?

    The online and offline world seem to operate with very different sets of instructions. A recent straw poll saw 100% of year 5 and 6 children say they had watched or played a game with a rating of 18. When posed the same question with regards to films only 3 hands went up. Despite all the good work that goes on with organisations such as NSPCC, PEGI, SwGfL to name but a few the message is clearly not getting through to parents or children. How do educational professionals deal with this, as the saying goes “You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. E-safety seminars within schools are notorious for low attendance, with parents either deliberately or naively turning a blind eye.

    In the Ofcom report on Children’s media use parents cited the main reason they did not, for example use safe search, was because they trusted their children. Trust is not enough, children must be protected. There is a difference between “trust” and “protection”. We need to educate parents that even if you “trust” your child you still need to protect them. Children wear cycling helmets – this is not because we don’t “trust” them to fall off their bikes – it is because we want to protect them.

    For the first time, children are now spending more time on the Internet than watching TV and are accessing content unsupervised at an increasingly younger age, so rather than turning a blind eye, parents should be actively discussing Internet use with their children. If parents are familiar with the online playground their children are in, they will at least have some notion of the potential risks. And once they do know where their children are hanging out, they then have the opportunity to suggest safer alternatives such as ChatFOSS. Afterall, we don’t want to prevent young people from learning how to use social media properly as it is integral to modern life. By showing them safer alternatives which teach them the principles without the risks, it’s like teaching them to ride a bike with stabilisers.

    Happily, the majority of underage usage of apps such as Instagram, twitter and facebook is entirely innocent, however that does not mean such usage does not bring with it risks. The reported increase in mental health issues that is being attributed to social media seems to have no impact on parental decisions. Can the recent Newsround report stating that 37% of children who use social media underage are friends with someone they have never met encourage parents to be more involved in e-safety? I hope so.

    We would like to thank our latest guest blogger, Alicia Coad, for her thoughts on this topic. To find out more about Alicia and ChatFOSS, click here.

    Written by Alicia Coad on March 03, 2016 11:43

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