It’s no secret that we’re all spending too much time staring at screens, whether its TVs, tablets, laptops or phones. And as we stare at them more, behavioural health experts are increasingly concerned about their effect on our mental health. Here’s a look at some of the mental health problems linked to too much screen time:
Research has shown that excessive screen time can decrease your ability to concentrate. You cannot focus on two things at once, so any time you spend on one thing is time not spent doing another. The more you switch from task to task, the less likely you are to be able to focus on anything for long. In other words: multitasking is a myth!
People constantly switching between tasks never get good at anything because they don’t stick with it long enough to become proficient at it—they’re always looking for the next best distraction. This is why many people find it difficult to study while watching TV or working while playing video games; they end up losing focus because their minds are all over the place instead of being focused solely on one activity at a time (say, learning).
Social Media Envy
Social media envy is a feeling of jealousy toward people’s lives on social media. People with social media envy may feel depressed and anxious as they compare their lives to the seemingly perfect ones portrayed by others. This can lead to body image issues and low self-esteem, which can seriously impact your mental health.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health problems in the United States, affecting roughly one in seven people. Screen time is a major contributor to depression and anxiety because of its effects on sleep patterns or its potential dehumanizing effect on users.
The most obvious way screen time contributes to depression and anxiety is by keeping people up late at night or disrupting their sleep cycle altogether.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Children who used electronic devices during their waking hours were more likely than those who didn’t use them at all to report being tired during the day.” They also reported having trouble sleeping. This directly affects students’ abilities to function optimally at school: if you’re tired all day long, even if you could fall asleep easily enough at night, you’ll still have trouble concentrating on homework assignments or paying attention in class due to sleep deprivation.
Screen time can also contribute indirectly by making social interactions with real friends less common—which means teens are missing out on opportunities for emotional support that might otherwise help them get through difficult times without falling into depression or anxiety disorders themselves.
The effects of screen time on sleep are not just the result of worrying about getting enough sleep. It’s also about what you’re actually doing on your devices before bedtime. The consequences are significant: In a study published earlier this year, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that teenagers who spent 10 hours or more per day engaging with electronic media were three times as likely to have trouble sleeping compared with those who spent less than two hours per day; they also had a greater risk of unintentionally falling asleep during the daytime.
Cyberbullying, Harassment and Abuse
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that uses electronic technology, such as the internet or cell phones. It can be anonymous but can also be traced back to the perpetrator. Cyberbullying can happen anywhere—in school, on the street, at home, and even online—and it affects people of all ages.
Cyberbullying often starts with a rumour that spreads quickly through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes cyber bullies will post embarrassing photos or videos online without your permission or knowledge to hurt or make fun of you for things like weight or appearance. Cyberbullies also send mean texts or emails about other people’s actions, body parts, and personal relationships to upset them as well as friends & family members who have access to their devices (like parents). Cyberbullies might also try convincing others that they are lying if they talk about being bullied themselves! This is called gaslighting; it means “to make someone question their sanity.”
Cyber-harassment includes posting hurtful comments about someone on social media sites such as Twitter; sending offensive text messages; emailing hateful messages containing threats (such as suicide); stalking by logging into another person’s account repeatedly without permission; hacking into accounts (e.g., Facebook) with an agenda other than friendship.
Screen time can also be used for self-care and self-harm: many people use video games (or video games plus alcohol) as coping mechanisms for their mental health issues; meanwhile, others choose not to engage with other humans at all (leading them down the path of social isolation and loneliness). If you’re using screen time in these ways—as part of your routine or out of despair—you should consider getting help from someone qualified in this area so that you can get back on track!
Screen time is not all bad; it can be a useful tool for keeping in touch with people or watching a movie you love. However, if you start to notice that your screen time is causing problems and getting in the way of your everyday life, it’s important to take action. If you need professional help, some organizations specialize in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. You don’t have to deal with these problems alone—we’re here to help you find the right resources! We hope you enjoyed this article and found it educational, and feel free to leave a comment down below with your thoughts on what constitutes excessive screen time!