THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Have you seen it? People walking down the street totally engrossed in their smart phones Get on a bus, and no one talks with each other because they have their smartphone in their hand and their ears plugged with their headphones.
The impact of technology on our lives is extremely important and has had a great deal of positive impact on our daily lives. However, there are some downsides to too much screen time.
Impact on Mental Health?
Excessive screen time has been associated with various mental health issues, both in children and adults. Here’s a breakdown of how it can affect an individual’s mental health:
- Sleep Deprivation: Spending a lot of time on electronic devices, especially before bedtime, can interfere with sleep. The blue light emitted from screens suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, making it harder to fall asleep1.
- Impoverished Stimulation: Screen activities often provide less rich cognitive stimulation compared to real-world interactions and experiences. This impoverished stimulation can be particularly concerning for developing brains, as it may hinder creativity and imagination2.
- Physical Health Correlation: Excessive screen time has been correlated with various physical health issues such as higher body mass index (BMI) and unusual eating habits, which could, in turn, impact mental health3.
- Increased Risk of Depression and Anxiety: Studies have shown that high screen time is associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. For instance, a study conducted in the UK found a positive association between screen time per day and poor mental health, with significant relationships observed particularly among women and adults aged 35-644.
- Lower Psychological Well-being: More hours of screen time have been associated with lower psychological well-being, exhibiting symptoms such as less curiosity, lower self-control, and emotional stability. High screen time users had twice the rate of anxiety or depression diagnoses compared to low screen time users5.
- Association with Mental Health Problems in Adolescents: Adolescents with excessive screen time have shown associations with mental health problems, though the relationship’s exact nature needs further exploration, including considerations like the content viewed or interaction levels with different screen devices6.
The impact of excessive screen time on mental health is a multi-faceted issue, with potential negative effects spanning from sleep disruption to heightened anxiety and depression symptoms. Understanding these risks and moderating screen time, along with engaging in more physically and socially active experiences, may be beneficial in promoting better mental health.
Keep in mind that your smartphone, tablet or computer is a tool. Use it as a tool and it can help enhance your life. Use it as a time waster and you are wasting the one most valuable asset in our lives we can not get more of, time!