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Does Your Screen Time Affect Your Mental Health?

In 2011 it was reported that 35% of adults in America owned a smartphone. A follow up to that study saw figures go up dramatically as 81% of adults in America reported to have a smartphone in 2019. We work, shop, watch, learn, connect, scroll, post and call, all on a screen. The world and all it has to offer are right at our fingertips. Convenience isn’t just a nice thought anymore, it’s the norm. With all the technology we have, just sitting in our laps, how are we handling it? Do we thrive off of all our screen time, or have we become its prisoner? The answers to these questions are interesting, and they vary depending on who you ask. It’s a pretty hot topic and there’s a lot of investigating going on about the effects of screen time on our mental health. The pandemic made screen time a necessity, whether it was for your business or your kids doing online school. Long term effects will be an ongoing research study, but some professionals are weighing in on this topic and we are ready to dive in with what we know so far.


The Drawbacks To Screen Time

We’ve coined the phrase, “all things are fine in moderation,” and there is some good truth to that statement. The same can be said for our screen time. It is fine in moderation, but an excessive amount can affect our mental health, our outlook and our perception of ourselves. Some of the negative results of too much screen time can be:

  • Lack of communication skills and language capacity in children and teens
  • Limited interpersonal skills and lack of social interaction in children and teens, which can translate into an inability to have positive, healthy relationships currently and into adulthood
  • Increase in screen time and using screens at night time before going to bed results in lack of sleep and makes it harder to fall asleep, which can attribute to bouts of anxiety and depression
  • Self comparisons to others on social media can lead to low self esteem and issues with body image
  • More screen time means less time for physical activity and exercise, especially outdoors
  • 6+ hours a day of screen time can cause depression, bad mood, or loneliness
  • Children who had 2+ hours of screen time a day scored lower on tests in language and thinking
  • Too much screen time can lead to weight gain, back and neck problems due to lack of movement


The Positive Things About Screen Time

It seems like the negative side of things always makes the loudest noise. There are some really great things about screen time that bring wonderful benefits:

  • Funny texts, pictures, memes or group conversations in real time can bring a smile to your face and help you feel connected to friends and family
  • Virtual exercise classes
  • Games using physical activity like Wii Fit and Just Dance
  • Telehealth appointments online with doctors and psychologist have made it more comfortable and easier for patients to talk about health and mental health
  • Health based apps that help connect with someone when they have a need
  • Video FaceTime calls keep us connected to family and friends all over the world, which helps our mental outlook staying connected to those we care about
  • The ability to work from home or from anywhere in the world
  • Kids can do school, take lessons, share in group discussions and learn just about anything from anywhere


How To Counteract Your Screen Time

Moderation is the key to most things in life, and screen time is no different. Way to balance screen time so it’s beneficial but not detrimental:

  • Take several breaks a day away from all your screens. Go outside, get fresh air and work in some exercise
  • Enable the screen time report on your phone that tells you how much time you’ve used your phone that week and compares it to the week before. That in itself can be a wake up call to take more time away from your technology
  • You can buy glasses that have a blue light filter, which can keep your melatonin level stable and enable you to sleep better
  • Set time limits on screen time use for you and your kids
  • Remove phones and other screens from everyone’s bedrooms and put them away at least one hour before going to bed
  • Have a family agreement that phones, laptops, other devices don’t come to the dinner table or to other family gatherings
  • Turn off most of your notifications, these are the distractions that can lead to excess screen time
  • Have alternative fun suggestions of things to do for your kids so they don’t turn to devices for all their entertainment


Moderation Is KEY

We mentioned how moderation is the key to almost everything in life, and using your screen time in moderation with appropriate boundaries and breaks is the best way to maximize your use of technology without letting it control you and consume you. Stay connected but also stay present to your life and appreciate the ones you share life with.



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