Scots are being urged to step away from their screens as new research reveals that more than a third worry they are addicted to social media.

According to a recent survey, 36 per cent consider themselves addicted to the online sites, while 29 per cent say they have a negative impact on their mental health.

With the research also showing that Scots spend an average of almost eight hours a day on social media, mental health charities have called for people to take more breaks away from their computers and phones to limit the amount of time they spend on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Experts described the findings as “concerning” and warned that high levels of social media use has been linked to depression, stress and sleep disruption.

Lee Knifton, director of Mental Health Foundation Scotland, said that while social media can be beneficial, it can also cause problems for some people.

“Social media has dramatically changed the way we communicate and is a powerful tool for many people,” she said. “However, it’s concerning that these figures highlight the large amount of time people are spending each day on social media channels.

“Research has shown that in some instances high levels of social media use can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health. Links have been shown between social media use, depression and body dysmorphia.

“It can also disrupt sleep – which we know is extremely important for good mental health.

“We’d encourage people to be aware and look out for any signs that they might be becoming affected adversely by their social media use, and seek available support.”

The survey, by polling firm Censuswide Scotland, revealed that 17 per cent of Scots feel anxious if they cannot access their social accounts, while 14 per cent say they could not go 48 hours without visiting them.

It also showed that young Scots aged 16-24 spend the most amount of time on the sites, with the age group visiting them for almost 10 hours each day.

Mental health charity Health in Mind claimed it was important to find the “right balance” with social media.

Alana Genge, communications manager for the charity, said: “Social media can be a great help in keeping us connected with family and friends but we also know that it can sometimes be a drain on our emotional wellbeing.

“It’s healthy to take a break from social media – it allows you to take time out to enjoy your surroundings and is an opportunity to reduce stress.

“If you feel that social media is having a negative impact on your wellbeing then consider ways of reducing the time you spend on it.

“You could set yourself a cut off time, turn off your notifications or make an agreement with yourself that you will only check your social media accounts a couple of times a day.

“You need to find what works for you and then evaluate whether the changes you have made have resulted in a positive impact on your wellbeing.”

The Censuswide survey, which polled more than 1000 people in Scotland, revealed that almost half of those asked believe the Scottish Government should do more to help combat social media addiction.

More than two-thirds also said they want age restrictions on social media to be increased to 16-years-old.

Commenting on the survey, Jordan Ferguson, from Censuswide Scotland said: “The Censuswide Scotland Online Behaviours Report looked at the online habits of a sample of the Scottish population.

“The research reveals some interesting trends and a clear concerns from Scots about the impact these platforms are having on their mental health.”