If we’re honest, most of us would admit we look at some form of digital screen more than we do the face of our friends and loved ones. From our phones to iPad, laptops and flatscreen TVs the size of an entire wall, screen time for most people is definitely on the rise. But what exactly are the mental health effects of all of this screen time?
Without realizing it, many of us are hampering our natural sleep cycle with so much screen time. Our electronic devices emit a blue light that interferes with our production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Screen time before bed will make it very hard to fall asleep. And a lack of quality sleep can cause our mood to dip and make it hard for us to deal with everyday stressors.
Impaired Social Skills
There is a bit of irony when it comes to screen time. We’re on our devices more and more as a way to connect with others. And yet, in reality we are alone when socializing digitally. Fewer real-life social interactions can lead to social anxiety and loneliness.
Poorer Emotional Regulation
Too much time on our devices affects our ability to register and process our emotions. Exposure to aggressive or violent media, for example, can impair our emotional judgment of real life events. It can also trigger our own aggressive tendencies.
Social media platforms are where we go to compare ourselves to others. Often when scrolling through our timelines, we perceive everyone else to have their act together, to be happier, healthier and more successful. Doing this day after day can take a real toll on our self-esteem.
Finding Healthier Alternatives
If you think you’re spending too much time in front of your screens, there are some steps you can take. First, make a commitment to keep TVs and all other devices out of your bedroom so you can ensure a good night’s rest.
Make dinner time with the family a “screen-free zone.”
And finally, take up some new hobbies, connect with old friends and try to get outdoors more. Your mental health will thank you.
Hi! My name is Nicky Keet, a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. I was born and raised in South Africa where I am a board-certified Psychologist. I have had the privilege of working in a country rich with culture and with individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicities. My clientele included those in conflict with the law, college students, children in safe houses, LGBTQ+ individuals, mood/anxiety disorders, and individuals who have experienced a range of trauma.
Learn more about Nicky: https://caringtherapistsofbroward.com/staff/nicky-keet/