In the year 2021, you can do almost anything from a smart device. Everything from study, to entertainment, to aid with everyday tasks is available right at your fingertips. In addition, recent events have reinforced technology’s ability to completely replace physical social interaction as needed.

While these incredible advancements in technology have made life easier for many of us, there are also some unfortunate side effects of spending the majority of your time staring at a screen. Think of it this way: is this constant access to screens helping to support our mental health? Or is it actually contributing to our stress and anxiety?

Courtesy of TMS Center of Lehigh Valley, let’s take a look at a few ways our mental health can be negatively impacted by too much screen time.

Psychological Development

These days, technology and screens are used daily by everyone, including children, teens, and adults alike. While we may read this simply as society adopting to a new, widely available tool, recent research has suggested that too much screen time can actually lead to an increased risk of delays in language development and communication skills in young children who spend more than 2-3 hours today in front of a screen.

As screens continue to become more prevalent in our daily lives, a decrease in healthy social interaction can also be observed. When children grow into adolescence and eventually young adulthood, a proper foundation of interpersonal skills is vital to their ability to develop healthy relationships with others.

If screens are a major aspect of you or your child’s life, you should ensure that you and your child are still engaging in traditional social interactions and connecting with others on a regular basis.

Sleep Quality and Restfulness

The “addictive” properties of smart devices and the apps we use on them have been well-documented, and you may have even noticed this in your own life. In fact, many people report using their smart devices right up until the moment they fall asleep, spending copious amounts of time browsing through social media, reading articles, or watching their favorite shows.

Recent research has suggested that this increased screen time may be linked to a decrease in our ability to sleep restfully. Again, this is particularly noticeable in children and adolescents, though it is often noticed in anyone who has access to smart devices while in bed.

Insufficient sleep, whether it be in quality or duration, has long been associated with the worsening of diagnosable mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. For this reason, many experts advise practicing good “sleep hygiene” by turning off devices at night (typically 15-30 minutes prior to bedtime) or removing them from your sleeping area altogether.

Self-Esteem and Insecurity

Of all the many reasons that people are seemingly glued to their smart devices, social media is among the most popular. In many ways, social media is a fantastic resource that allows us to have contact with loved ones near and far. However, the societal prevalence of social media does have a dark side.

Unfortunately, heavy social media use can force us to constantly compare ourselves with the lives and successes of others, like friends, influencers, and celebrities. Since many people only put the most carefully curated, most picturesque version of themselves online, comparisons like these can contribute to low self-esteem, negative self-talk, and body image issues.

If you’ve been noticing a pattern of feeling poorly about yourself while scrolling through social media feeds, it may be time to change up your routine. You can start by cleaning up your friends list and spending less time on apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Changes in Physical Exercise and Body Movement

The more time we spend on smart devices, the less time we spend engaging in physical activity and body movement. Sometimes, it seems as though people have cut physical activity from their lives entirely in favor of video games and virtual reality simulators.

Engaging in active, joyful movement each and every day is crucial to preserving both your mental and physical wellness. However, many people simply do not feel comfortable or safe leaving their homes for exercise. In this case, devices can actually be your friend.

Try taking virtual group classes with your local gym, participating in online yoga tutorials, or even playing movement-centric video games like Just Dance and Wii Fit. These can be wonderful ways to get and stay active without feeling anxious or uncomfortable.

Another great way to take care of yourself is by branching out into a whole new world of treatment options for mental health conditions. TMS Center of Lehigh Valley, is the region’s first depression treatment center offering FDA approved, non-drug, non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment for patients who suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Our dedicated staff is made up of tireless advocates who, with our expertise and compassion, help people struggling with depression conquer their disease and get their smiles back. To learn more about what we do or how we can help, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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