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Issue 17 Out Now

The negative impact screen time has on your mental health



Have you noticed a decline in your mental health lately? One reason could be that your screen time has increased, decreasing your overall well-being.


Healthline states that “adults who watch TV or use a computer for more than 6 hours per day are more likely to experience moderate to severe depression.” Screen time can encompass a multitude of activities, from watching TV shows to scrolling through social media or browsing the web. If you want to understand how screen time affects your mental health negatively and learn how to prevent this from happening, read on.


Negative Impacts

For many people, the first and last thing they do each day is to look at their phones, whether checking messages first thing in the morning or scrolling through social media before bed. When we spend significant amounts of time on our phones or the tv, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) takes over. CNLD notes that “having a screen accessible creates a portal to the rest of the world. Whatever is happening in the real world becomes less important than the ‘what ifs’ inside the screen.”


This can manifest in several ways, such as missing out on planned events, neglecting responsibilities outside of the phone, and fixating on the “what ifs” of online interactions. All of these can negatively affect your mental health because you’re placing all your time and energy into the online world or your phone and neglecting other areas of your life.


Additionally, excessive screen time can lead to unproductivity by causing people to forget about tasks they started beforehand. According to PMC, “among 14- to 17-year-olds, moderate users are 66% more likely to not finish tasks they started.” This is a significant percentage of teenagers and maybe even worse for younger children. It is probably even worse now because most people have smartphones, no matter how old. Parents give their children phones at a young age, which doesn’t help the issue.


Another negative impact is depression. Spending too much time on your phone can make people depressed, even when they may require professional help. This is most common among teens and young adults but can affect anyone. Excessive screen time can interfere with personal relationships and does not increase energy levels, which can lead to depression and anxiety. PMC reports that “high users of screens were more likely to have seen or needed to have been seen by a mental health professional and more likely to have taken medication for a psychological issue.”


Ways to Prevent This

If you want to prevent the negative impacts of excessive screen time from affecting you or someone you know, there are several ways to do so. Some strategies may differ depending on your age or the person you’re helping, but here are a few simple tips:

  • Limit your screen time by setting up designated times on your phone when you won’t use it.

  • Use your phone only when necessary, and spread out your screen time usage throughout the day.

  • Avoid using your phone with friends or family to maintain focus and productivity.

  • Take screen time breaks in between sessions

  • There are many other ways to limit screen time, so find what works best.


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