With the introduction of mobile phones, computers, TVs, and a wealth of additional electronic devices, unfortunately, comes a rise in screen time!
Whether an adult or a child, our reliance on such devices increases with each passing year. Therefore, it’s not much of a stretch to say most of our usual screen time extends to several hours a day.
But, though most of us find such gadgets an essential addition to our lives, it’s getting harder to dispute the links between screen time and a decrease in mental health.
The Draw and Power of the Screen
With every piece of data you can imagine available from the comfort of your screen, the temptation of such electronic devices is quite clear.
Never before have we all had so much information in the twenty-first century. All the content, media, and entertainment, we desire is readily available from the one screen!
Yet, over time, this has meant that our ability to create our own entertainment has reduced dramatically. Understandably, none of us ever must be bored again with online demand catering to our every whim.
But, with this loss of creativity, solitude, and patience come several negative aspects. Notably, many of us now find ourselves unable to detach from our screens throughout the day – even experiencing withdrawal symptoms when we do so.
As a result, our reliance on-screen time has started to encroach onto our mental well-being.
How Increased Screen Time Impacts on Our Mental Health
Quite simply, increased ongoing screen time affects our very basic human needs. This is a fact referred to by many a leading psychologist who has witnessed the fallout first-hand.
The human body is a machine that, to continue to do well, needs to stay well-oiled.
In both adults as well as children, this means:
- Getting the right amount of sleep and rest
- Being active throughout the day
- Eating a healthy and balanced diet
- Interacting socially with others in real-time
Yet, when any one of these needs becomes unbalanced, screen time begins to interfere with well-being. The most common culprit here is overstimulation.
This means rather than sleeping, we’re staying up later watching one more episode or checking out the latest YouTube video.
Rather than getting our recommended daily exercise fix, we’re sat in front of our screens. Or we’re lying on our beds, sedentary for a great deal of the day.
Snacks have replaced healthy food so we can eat in front of our screens. Or we eat more convenience food, so we spend less time prepping for the same reason.
But perhaps one of the most problematic issues concerning mental health is that we’re not interacting with others.
For all the electronic communication and likes made online, we humans are social creatures and crave a level of real-time socialization. This is just something a screen cannot replace.
The Rise of Screen Time in an Ever-Changing World
The reality is that we’re living in a world where many of us need to access screens as part of our everyday life. Furthermore, with pandemics such as the recent COVID, for many, the screen has become their lifeline.
Some people find they are now relying solely on screens for work, while others find screens are their only means of communicating with the outside world.
Unfortunately, it’s also fair to say that many of us, at times, find life behind the screens that little bit safer. This is especially so for children during school holiday times and adults in the evenings.
Therefore, if we’re to ensure that more screen time to come doesn’t continue to affect our mental health status, they need to find a way to live side by side.
Creating a Good Balance of Screen Time and Positive Mental Health Status
The key here is to find that balance. Perhaps so quickly spoken but harder to action, perseverance here is vital. This means looking at a solution to create a healthier long-term scenario.
Undeniably, screens are addictive, and as humans, we all have addictive tendencies. However, like any addiction, they can be overcome. Though the idea isn’t to eliminate them entirely here, you can build a healthy balance:
- Recognize your addiction to your screen. Be honest with yourself about the time you use a screen. Watch how often your hand reaches for your device throughout the day. Log the time spent on your favorite apps.
- Take a minute to reassess your overall health and wellbeing. Are you tired all day? Is your health suffering? Do you find yourself becoming more and more withdrawn from those around you?
- Commit to making a change. For example, if you’re waking tired every day after spending hours watching clips on your phone all night, switch off your devices before you get into bed.
- Try to find another form of activity to sit alongside your screen time. So, instead of reading on your device, pick up a physical book in its place. When you’re tempted to scroll through your media feeds, get out and take a walk. At dinner time, leave the screen and sit around the table to eat instead.
No-one can deny the power of the screen and its lure. But we can all recognize this power and actively decide to balance it out for the sake of our mental health and well-being.
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.