Mental Health in the Digital Age: Coping with Screentime

I promise, I’ll get off my phone, and Twitter. Just give me 10 minutes.” Sure thing my guy, if it makes you sleep any better. The 21st century can arguably be seen as the golden age of human ingenuity. Where mankind peaked and where man shot for the stars. But with this new age and its innovations, come new problems and challenges. You could even argue that these problems and challenges have been even before the golden age of technology. But that they are more in the open due to the privilege and access to the digital world.  

The world they say is a global village so getting information about the mishaps, good news or bad, and day-to-day happenings around the world and human life comes pretty easy these days. But somehow everybody can’t seem to get off their screens. It is almost like we’re all glued to this tiny box of wires, carbon, and metal.

mental health

The digital age is stated to be the peak of human advancement and civilization. It is thought to be an era of innate discovery and exceptional progress. Although that gives a vague visual as to what the digital age is. Well according to the Collins dictionary, the digital age otherwise known as the information age is defined as a time when large amounts of information are widely available and accessible to many people, largely through computer integrations and technology. The digital age in itself is without a doubt the course of our history. Human history is being molded and shaped by digital information and highly advanced computer technologies.

Digital Age and Mental Health

The digital age has been a steadily growing and revolutionary change to life and man as we know it. However even as grand and wonderful as it comes it’s an era like any other that comes with its pros and cons. Mental health has been a defined and largely spoken-upon issue of the modern world. Men, women, and even children suffer or go through mental health challenges. While some are lucky to get help and recover, some are left unseen and unnoticed. And they are completely consumed by their inner demons.

But how does the digital age fit into all of this? How does it affect mental health? And if it does, does it do so positively or negatively? You could say it does both ways, but it could be a cause for debate. As technology evolves, so does its coherent effect on our mental health. With examples such as the ever-popular and infamous social media.

How Social Media Affects Mental Health

Social media platforms are generally used as a means to interact and network with people around the world. But they can also be used as a tool for cyberbullying, and deeply cause depression. Through research, it has been made known that the more time people spend on social media the likelier it is that they give into feelings of peer pressure, unnecessary competition, depression and anxiety, and drawing needless comparisons.

As such, it is a matter that leaves room to be addressed and curbed as soon as possible. Young adults and even teenagers are drawn green with envy. They are ridiculed with depression or feelings of being less enough because of the things they’ve seen on social media and the things they’ve been told. Social media and suicide have been hand in hand for the past few years, due to things such as cyberbullying which pushes the suicidal thoughts of young people over the edge. Pushing a handful over the edge, they contemplate taking their own lives to escape their mind and thoughts.

It is important to note that children, young adults, and even grown-ups who are victims of cyberbullying are twice as likely to self-harm, adopt suicidal behavior, and act on suicidal impulses.

Screentime and mental health

Excessive screen time, and lounging away on these platforms and mediums for too long tend to take hold of it’s users after a while. According to specific research and resources, the human brain is wired to respond drastically to negative depictions or information, which in turn makes the mind feel less of itself. 

 This shows that these effects on mental health are not to be frowned upon or tossed aside. But they should be seen as an insight as to how important and urgent it needs to be handled and treated. 

Excessive screen time is purely addictive and hinders productivity or motivation. It even gives room for procrastination and laziness. Having a clear idea of screen time usage and management, however, will help to drastically reduce it’s side effects. Now there’s healthy and unhealthy screen time. A healthy amount of screen time as stated by experts outside of work and business should not be more than two hours a day. Anymore and this would slow down your production and slug your focus.

Tips to Monitor Your Screen Time

Tips to achieve this would be turning off your notifications after the conclusion of a screen time map of your settings. Setting a timer, leaving the phone out of the bedroom, or possibly keeping it beyond arm’s reach while you prepare for bed.

Unhealthy screen time goes down to wasting away at the mercy of your screen, going hours and hours without breaking concentration or being oblivious to your surroundings. This relates to what is called being chronically online and this is linked to psychological problems such as a rise in depression rates, anxiety, and poor sleep which works overtime to harm or damage your health.

Other effects of this are digital eye strain, impaired sleep, and damaged mental health. A study executed back in 2018 in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology showed how social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat affected the mental health of 143 students. At first, they showed heavy depressive symptoms at the start of the study but showed improvement 3 weeks later. After being exposed and told to reduce their social media usage to 10 minutes per day on each platform.

This study ended with positive results, with their symptoms of depression and loneliness decreasing by an impressionable amount.  Excessive screen time in itself also gives room for digital stress.

Digital stress and Mental Health

Digital stress is incurred from the negative impacts of technology and the digital world on our mental and physical well-being. It ties in closely with depression and mental exhaustion as well as anxiety. One of the causes is information overload. Social media is the key perpetrator, fear of missing out on life-changing opportunities, and cyberbullying. A digital escape or preventive measures are needed to curb this effect. Such as; taking a break, learning to put down your phone, and staying away from the internet for a few days.

Being attentive to your feelings and emotions, as well as reactions and thoughts. Being attentive and mindful is a step in the right direction. Social interactions with people in real life. As well as minimizing usage. 

Excessive screen time, as well as digital stress, are a budding cause for concern in modern society. They can cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. However, by taking effective countermeasures and quality control, it is a situation that can be salvaged and taken care of efficiently.

With each day the awareness of the effects of social media grows stronger and people are getting the help needed and necessary, we can only trust that it’ll keep up and even surpass its current pace. And encourage more mental health organizations and bodies to do so and keep going forward.

  In the end, it all boils down to putting your phone down. Developing healthy screen time routines, learning the importance of self-discipline and control to properly balance and handle screen time. Nurturing and practicing how to feed your mind with information that keeps it active and productive rather than sluggish and depressing. Don’t forget to go outside to be with nature, go touch some Grass! I promise it’ll do you a whole lot of good.

Praise Abidoye

Praise is an academic writer, content writer, proof reader, and sign language interpreter. She is currently writing content and building with new brands as well as start-ups. She has worked with wonderful and talented people across different industries and she is passionate about bringing exceptional and persistent productivity to the forefront of the table. When Praise isn't working, she's reading books and spending time with family.