I know too much screen time and social media can be bad for children, but what about adults?
As you’re aware, more and more studies are showing the harmful effects that excessive screen time has on children as their brains are still forming. But we adults also need to be just as concerned about how electronic devices are affecting our mental and physical health.
Prolonged device use and excessive time on social media are linked to increased rates of depression—not only in youth but in adults too.
Gratitude and contentment keep us on a happy path throughout life. When we are less thankful, we become discontent with what we have, which leads to more depression.
Social media skews our perception of reality as people post the “polished version” of their life.
Social media has a large impact on how content we feel in life. It skews our perception of reality as people post the “polished version” of their life. We begin to compare ourselves and our lives against others, making us feel inadequate or wanting what others have. For those already prone to depression, this type of browsing can cause more harm.
Hearing a notification come through causes us to impulsively check to see what’s going on. It takes us away from the conversation we may be having or the activity we are involved in. Our ability to focus on tasks can be constantly disrupted with the need to know the latest updates. The result is an inability to complete tasks and a feeling of not being productive.
Turning off notifications and scheduling specific times of the day to check email, updates, and so on can help limit how often we are on our devices.
When we don’t get enough sleep, it affects our mood and can increase feelings of depression and anxiety. Most electronic devices emit a blue light that stimulates sensors in our eyes and sends signals to the brain’s internal clock. This has an effect on our body’s rhythm and production of melatonin.
Looking at a screen late at night affects the way melatonin is made, disrupting our sleep patterns.
Your brain creates melatonin to help you fall asleep. So looking at a screen late at night affects the way melatonin is made, disrupting our sleep patterns. Using a phone or computer also stimulates the brain when we need it to start relaxing before bed. It is wise to put away devices at least two hours before going to bed, or use amber-tinted glasses or a night filter in the evening.
People with the most personal contact are less likely to be depressed. Weak social connections increase depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Quality social interaction is a key component of mental health.
With the increased use of social media, people are spending less time with each other. Even when we are in the same room, devices distract us from enjoying quality conversation face to face. We can begin to feel isolated despite the fact that we are “interacting” with people constantly.
According to one study, the more social media platforms people are involved in also increased the rate of depression. If you want to be on social media, pick one platform and focus on using it to supplement your relationships rather than replace personal contact.
We have a real need for accountability when using our phones, tablets, and computers. Not having any measures in place to monitor our actions can lead to compulsive and addictive behavior. Many adults see the need for children to have accountability, but they often glaze over the benefits it can have for themselves.
Managing your time wisely and being deliberate on your device can help you avoid many potential pitfalls.
Yours in accountability,
“Ask Ali” is an op-ed column answering common questions about accountability and related topics.