Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, is supporting Scroll Free September, the world's first large-scale social media-free month, run by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
The first Scroll Free September will run from 1 to 30 September 2018. The campaign asks users to stop or cut down use of all personal (not work) social media accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat for the month (instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp are fine!).
It follows the publication of RSPH's #StatusOfMind report in 2017, which found that although social media has a range of both positive and negative effects on the mental health and wellbeing of young people, the net effect of the majority of major platforms is currently negative, with impacts including heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, poor sleep, body images issues and fear of missing out (FoMO).
"Social media has a wide range of positive impacts, but it's clear it can also have a number of potential negative impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
Scroll Free September gives users an opportunity to reflect and to build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media."
Announcing the campaign, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said:
"Social media has become a part of almost everyone's life, revolutionising the way we communicate and share information. It has great potential to have positive impacts on mental health and wellbeing by connecting people in new ways. However, as our #StatusOfMind report showed, for many of us, especially our young people, the overall impact on mental health and wellbeing may currently be a detrimental one.
"Scroll Free September offers us all the opportunity to take back control of our relationship with social media, whether you choose to go cold turkey, or just abstain at social events or in the evening. The aim is that by the end of the month, we will be able to reflect back on what we missed, what we didn't, and what we got to enjoy instead of scrolling through our newsfeeds. That knowledge could help us build a healthier, more balanced relationship with social media in the future.
"Of course, we know this will be a challenge because of the addictive nature of social media technology, which is why we need to work closely with the Government and the social media industry to create an online environment that is more conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing. The ongoing work of the APPG on Social Media and Young People's Mental Health and Wellbeing will play a vital part in this."
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 10 year 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."
Find out more and sign up to take part in the campaign at www.scrollfreeseptember.org.