Today, almost everything has been impacted by technology. Some statistics suggest more than six billion people in the world own a smartphone – roughly 83% of the population and a number that is rising. In addition to this, millions of people own televisions, computers, laptops, and other digital devices with a screen. Looking at a screen every day has become a normal part of life for a large proportion of the world’s population and this is almost certainly going to have some sort of impact on health and wellbeing.
There have been a number of studies into the impact of screen time on mental health and wellbeing, and some concerns have been raised, particularly when it comes to children spending excessive time looking at screens. With the rise of technology, there are computers and other screens almost everywhere – including in schools, hospitals, and at home.
We’ll look at some of the links that have been drawn between screen time and mental health and how you could reduce any risks associated with these activities.
The Risk of Depression
Spending a small part of your day browsing the internet might make you feel relaxed and happy, but spending too much time in front of a screen can start to bring your mood down, according to some studies.
A study in 2017 found that people who spent six hours or more online each day were at higher risk of developing depression. One of the reasons for this is that being online for several hours every day can cause people to feel disconnected from the world around them. This can feel ironic, particularly when social media and other platforms are marketed with the idea of keeping us connected.
Spending too much time online can also cause people to feel like they are not being productive. A lack of satisfaction can lead to feelings of disheartenment and, subsequently, depression.
The Risk of Anxiety
Spending too much time in front of a screen could lead to an increased risk of anxiety. This is partly because too much screen time can create sleep problems, such as lack of sleep or poor sleep quality. Sleep is one of the main things which is linked to our hormones, so any impact on our sleeping patterns can impact anxiety levels too.
Studies on anxiety and screen time have also made links between spending too much time on social media and an increased risk of anxiety. Spending significant amounts of time every day on social media can lead to a feeling of low self-esteem and self-worth, which are some of the leading causes of anxiety and mental health concerns among children and adolescents.
Reducing the Risk of Depression and Anxiety
Since there are so many credible studies that have drawn links between screen time and mental health conditions, many people make the decision to reduce the amount of time they and their children spend in front of a screen.
Many jobs require people to be in front of a screen for long hours, such as working in an office or customer-facing role. However, unnecessary screen time can be reduced throughout the week, such as limiting the time you spend watching TV or browsing social media. Filtering out some of the content you and your family are viewing can also be beneficial for mental health, to ensure that you are viewing more positive and uplifting content rather than material that causes a lack of self-esteem or connection.
Finding Support for Depression and Anxiety
Reducing the risk of depression and anxiety can’t always be done by reducing screen time alone. Sometimes people may need to seek support through other forms, and in Pinellas County, TMS Advantage can provide a professional service for those who are struggling.
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