We’ve all been there – scrolling through social media for hours on end, getting lost in the endless stream of pictures and videos. As technology continues to advance, the amount of time we spend in front of screens has increased significantly. From smartphones and tablets to laptops and televisions, screens have become an ever-growing part of our daily lives.
While technology has undoubtedly brought many benefits, the impact of excessive screen time on mental health is a growing concern. Whether you’re scrolling through great content, mindless videos, or doomscrolling through the news, technology can deeply impact your health and mindset.
Common Impacts of Technology
One of the main concerns with screen time is the impact it can have on our sleep. The blue light emitted by screens can suppress melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, making it harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep. This can lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders, which can, in turn, lead to a host of mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.
Social Isolation & Loneliness
There is a link between how much time you spend on your phone and social isolation. Social media might make it easy to stay connected with friends and family, but, somewhat ironically, too much time spent on these platforms can actually lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Studies have shown that the more time we spend on social media, the less satisfied we are with our real-life relationships. This is because social media can create an illusion of connection without the depth and richness of real-life relationships.
Reduction of Mindfulness & Awareness
Screentime can have a negative impact on mindfulness and present-moment awareness. When we are constantly hooked to screens we often multitask, which can lead to a scattered mind and make it difficult to focus. With the constant stream of notifications and updates, it can be hard to be fully present in the moment. This can lead to feelings of stress and burnout, and make it difficult to complete work or other activities. Plus if you’re already struggling with mental health conditions, this can further escalate anxiety and depression in adults.
A major issue with being on our devices all the time is that excessive screen time can lead to addiction. This is because screens activate the release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, people can develop an addiction to this feeling, leading to a decline in overall mental well-being.
Sometimes people who are addicted to technology can feel similar to those with an attention deficit disorder like ADHD, because many of the side effects like burnout and reduced attention span are the same.
How to Balance Technology with Feeling Better
Don’t throw out your phone just yet! It’s important to remember that technology can be extremely useful, and even beneficial, when used in moderation. By balancing the time spent on screens with other activities that promote well-being, we can continue to reap the benefits of technology without sacrificing our mental health.
Some ways you can be more mindful of your phone usage are:
- Setting time limits on your devices so you’re aware of how long you’ve been looking at a screen.
- Setting specific times of the day to unplug, especially an hour before bedtime to get better sleep.
- Creating daily habits or engaging in hobbies that aren’t related to your phone/don’t require a screen.
- Incorporating mindfulness practices into your day like meditation and deep breathing exercises, to become more aware of your thoughts and habits.
- Spending more time in person with loved ones if you can. Even talking over the phone instead of texting can increase feelings of connectivity and decrease loneliness.
It’s also important to be aware of the triggers that lead to excessive screen time and avoid them as much as possible. For example, people sometimes go on their phones to avoid situations they don’t want to address, or as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. By reducing the factors that contribute to excessive screen time, you may be less likely to spend as much time on your phone.
Balance is Everything
In conclusion, as screens have become a fundamental part of our lives, it is essential to be aware of the impact that excessive screen time can have on mental health. By setting limits and boundaries, being mindful, and incorporating mindfulness practices, individuals can reduce the negative impact of screen time on mental health. And, by balancing the time spent on screens with other activities that promote well-being, adults can continue to reap the benefits of technology while preserving their mental health.