Three ways too much screen time can impact your mental health
Digital devices are a part of everyday life for almost all of us. Whether it’s TV, mobile phones, tablets or laptops, the average UK adult spends five hours per day looking at a screen, in addition to any devices used for work. When you consider that most of us will be awake for around 16-18 hours per day, and seven of those will be at work, that adds up to 12 hours of screen time per day – a worryingly high amount.
Screens are not all bad, and they can be used as tools for work, connection and learning, but too much screen time can be detrimental to your mental health. Here, we explain why.
Increased comparison and decrease in self-confidence
When you spend too much time scrolling, it can be easy to lose touch with reality. The truth is that many images on social media are filtered or edited, and even if they aren’t, the person is likely posing in a certain way to make them look their best. In addition, almost everyone will just post photos where they’re doing something fun or exciting.
Many of us recognise this, but it can be hard to remember when you’re stuck in a cycle of looking at other people’s photos. You may end up feeling like your life is boring, or you don’t look as nice as the people you follow, which can decrease your self-confidence and make you feel unhappy.
Mobile phones can be a great tool, but all too often we feel that we can’t be apart from them, lest we miss a message or notification. The fear of missing out can lead to increased anxiety, with many people constantly checking their phones, even if there’s no notification on screen.
It can also be difficult to avoid harmful content, especially if you’re looking at recommended content on social media. It’s easy to read horrible news stories, or see something that you find upsetting without intending to. Sometimes, it’s difficult to discern if this content is real or fake, which can make anxiety worse.
Spending a lot of time on your phone means that you’re not up and moving. Not only is this bad for our physical health, but it can also affect mental health. Exercise increases endorphins and reduces stress, as well as helping us be in the moment and connect with the world around us.
Use Screens Responsibly
It can be impossible to avoid screen time, especially if you use devices for work or school, but the important thing is to manage your time online responsibly. This way, you can ensure that screen time is a positive influence on your life, not one you can’t escape from. South Warwickshire & Worcestershire Mind offers a range of support services that can help you if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms and feel you’re not in control of your phone usage.