The impact of screen time on mental health can only be understood properly when we understand what mental health and what screen time mean. Do you think you know what these mean?
Okay let’s get started
The word mental health is a state of well-being rather than illness. Mental health is said to be level of psychological well-being, social well-being and behavioral adjustment. The state of our mental health determines how we handle stress. Do you react to stress or you respond?
Mental health also includes our emotions, how we think, feel, the way we act, our ability to enjoy life, our ability to manage life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience and relate to others. One’s mental health condition determines the way you function at a satisfactory level. The well-being of an individual is said to be encompassed in the realization of their abilities, productive work, the way they handle normal stress of life and their contribution to their environment.
Mental health sometimes refers to the absence of mental disorder. Our mental health has an effect on our daily life, relationships and sometimes physical health. Mental health is an important condition at every stage of life, from infancy to adolescence and through adulthood.
Mental health which is the excellent performance of mental function which results in productive activities, ability to carry out a successful relationship with others and the ability to adapt to change and cope with situations. An individual with a high level of mental health is creative, productive and have the ability to learn fast. Also, include positive social relationships and improved physical health and life expectancy. Good mental health means appreciating yourself on your achievements and also dealing with your shortcomings. It allows one to satisfy their needs, to realize their aspirations and also to cope with the environment in order to achieve a fruitful life, productive and to live long. Typically good health enables economic, social and personal development, fundamental to healthy lives. Good mental health enables individuals to be productive.
Mental health can also be defined as cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being of every individual in which he or she is able to realize his or her own potential and also able to handle the normal stress of life. Basically, your attitude and approach towards life which include psychological, environmental, physiological factors and genetic contribute greatly to your mental health. Your mental health is very important in every aspect of your life, it has a huge impact on your daily activities.
In contrast, it is important to know that the fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t mean that their mental health is perfect. Mental health is complex and not a simple concept that you can grab within a few minutes. Also it is something that we all need to know and understand. When an individual with positive mental health starts to experience a mental health condition, his thinking, behavior, and mood could be affected. However, understanding your mental health and how to achieve it will help you to handle your potential and also help to prevent mental health conditions.
BENEFITS OF GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
Excellent mental health allows people to achieve the following
- An individual with positive mental health is able to realize their full potential
- Enable one to be able to handle the stress of life
- Contribute to the success of their community (An individual who does not have a positive mental health will be more concerned about their selves than the community as a whole)
- Enable an individual to stay positive.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION
Mental health condition is otherwise known as Mental illness or mental health problem. It is a disorder that affects your thinking, mood, and behavior negatively. Mental illness can make your life miserable and cause you problems in your daily activities. Mental health condition is associated with distress or having difficulties in functioning in work, social, family activities and community activities. It is a common disorder and it is treatable.
A mental health condition is a form of disease that causes mild to a severe disturbance in thought and behavior which result in an inability to handle life’s ordinary demands and routines. Many people believe that mental health conditions are rare. However, mental health conditions are common and widespread.
Mental health condition can be caused due to the way an individual reacts to genetic factors, environmental stress, and biochemical imbalance. It may also be caused by too much stress from particular events. Mental health conditions are usually physical, emotional and psychological. However, with proper care and treatment, many individuals learn to recover from emotional disorder and mental health condition.
There are different factors that contribute to a mental health condition which include:
- Facing difficulties in life i.e life experience such as trauma or abuse
- Biological factor
- Genetic and environmental factor
SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION
- Feeling distressed
- Feeling sad and moody
- Getting angry easily
- Feeling pains and unexplained ache
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Inability to carry out daily routine
- Feeling confused
- Having difficulties in understanding and relating to people
- Eating or sleeping more than usual
- Having mood swing
- Being paranoid and illusion
HOW TO PREVENT MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION
There is no special way to prevent mental health condition. Although if you have any mental health condition, taking steps to control stress, to increase your resilience and also to increase your low self-esteem may enable you to keep your symptoms under control. These steps might be of great help so follow it
- Always go for a routine medical checkup: Try to create time for your checkups never neglect it and always feel free to talk to your health care provider, especially when you aren’t feeling well. You may be experiencing side effects of medication or having a new mental condition.
- Seek help whenever you sense that something seems not right.
- Take good care of your health. Get sufficient sleep, eat healthy meat and engage yourself in exercise because a regular physical activity is important.
- Always try to engage in conversation with friends.
WHAT IS SCREEN TIME?
Screen time refers to the time spent in front of any time of screen either for entertainment or recreation purposes. Screen time is also the amount of time spent using a certain device such as a computer, Smartphone, television and video games consoles, iPad and using the internet.
We can’t deny the fact that screen are a big part of life. The uses of the screen have some real positive effect on adults and kids. They are said to be fun and they are also useful when it comes to teaching our kids new things.
It’s important to find the right balance when it comes to the time we spent using a screen. The screen also has a negative effect on our health. The more time we spend on our screen, the less time we are being active and getting to relate to others.
EFFECT OF SCREEN TIME ON OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Whenever it comes to technology, most importantly new devices, it’s natural that we worry about the effect of it on ourselves and our children. Although technology has made remarkable steps forward and brings along countless benefits, it is also natural for us to begin to wonder about the negative effects. However, as adults we generally know how to do what is best for us and if we are using our screen time too often we make an effort to cut it back but what about our children after all their brains are still developing, and it’s difficult to say with any certainty on how our rapidly changing world might have an impact on them. Children love their devices and what could excessive screen time be doing to our child’s mental health?
The biggest difference in children’s cognitive development is when it comes to recreational screen time. The less time you spend on screen and the more you sleep are associated with the biggest brain gain. However, exercise had the biggest effect on physical health. The more closely kids meet the recommendation for screen time, exercise and sleep, the better their cognition. However, one’s behavior and day to day activities contribute to one’s physical activity, sedentary behavior, cognitive development and brain development.
However, having good sleep and physical activity are associated with excellent performance in one’s academics. Although physical activity is also connected to better reaction time, memory, inhibition, and attention.
The devices we are referring to can either be a computer, television, tablet, mobile or iPad they are all symbol of our modern age. We were usually overwhelmed with the thoughts of our kids but hardly have a little thought of ourselves. The adult brain might not be developing at the same stunning pace as those of our children, but we are also not excluded in the effect of screen time on our mental health.
The habits we are used to every day could be having a much more profound effect on us than we realize which includes our screen time. While there’s nothing wrong with watching TV, texting on your phone or playing games on your computer, there are some necessary things to consider as you decide just how much time you spend enjoying what you are doing.
Excessive screen time could contribute to depression
The chance of developing depression was the highest for those who use screen time, either television or your mobile phone as well as playing computer games for more than six hours per day. In other to lessen your chance of developing depression, mitigating the risk is simple enough, if you are will to change your habits on how you use screen time. It is advisable to institute special board game nights with your family instead of playing video games. Instead of watching television during dinner, keep the TV off while you are at the table. Not only is this good for your mental health, but it also helps strengthen your relationships.
Too much screen time can make you less healthy
The importance of exercise is no more a secret. It is known that light physical activity can have a positive effect on our health. However, by the same token, the opposite is true sitting in front of your television or computer can put you at a higher risk of illnesses like diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
In other to stay healthy, we advise getting active and getting outside. Hiking, riding bicycles or even taking a walk around your neighborhood can be a great way to get your body moving and also reduce the risk of illness. These will give you a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your loved ones and together make memories.
Screen time before bed can have a negative impact on your sleep cycles
The urge to check your phone one last time at the end of the day can ruin your sleep. How? The blue light on your phone screen can actually play a trick on your brain making your brain to think it’s still daylight, which in turn affects the hormones produced to regulate sleep. This makes it difficult for you to fall and stay asleep. When this happens to you often, the cumulative effect of this restlessness can leave you exhausted.
It’s important you change your habits before bed. Instead of using your phone, you can pick up a book or magazine. However, if it is compulsory to check your email at night, use an app that will help filter out the blue light. Although this might not be perfect, but will help improve melatonin levels in the brain which is good for better sleep.
To give up screen is almost impossible but it is avoidable in other for one’s mental health to be in its best condition. However, we still advise you to try and pay closer attention to the way you respond to screen time and look for a way to change your habits on how often you use technology.
EFFECT OF SCREEN TIME ON KIDS MENTAL HEALTH
Kids spend an average of five to seven hours a day using screens for entertainment, which is either equal to or much greater than the total time spent in the classroom. An average child may interact with TV screens daily, but it is more likely that tablets and smartphones are even more constant form of screen media. All these portable devices such as iPads, smartphones, tablets, and computers give the kids a chance to watch movies and shows; playing a video game is not excluded likewise having a conversation with friends, exploring social media or favorite websites is also included. Definitely, there is no doubt, mobile devices provide a great deal of fun for kids.
Children of 12 years of age or under are right in the middle of the development process, most especially regarding their mental health development. At this stage the rate and way they use screen matters. However, the way kids use a screen for school-related activities and assignments doesn’t show the same negative effect as much as recreational screen time. In the case study, non- recreational screen time and anxiety or depression didn’t correlate in any way. This sounds like good news because technology plays an important role in learning in many schools most especially in the classrooms of older children. Your kid’s brain is not just developing in school, it’s developing every day so it matters what and where kids spend their days and nights and what they are doing.
Nevertheless, kids never stop accessing all these screen time devices like smartphones, TVs, iPad, and video games. These screen time devices have now become a concern for parents across the globe. Their concern is understandable because parents are afraid about the negative effect of too much screen time on their kids.
Does screen time cause Anxiety/ Depression to our Kids?
Screen time is linked to negative mental health outcomes. The studies about the use of internet and video game by kids show that exposure to screens actually changes the physical brain. The material in the brain which is involved in distributing signals and processing information known as the white matter within the brain may also be affected. Although it is said with excessive screen time, the majority of the damage occurs in the brain frontal lobe; which is said to undergo numerous changes from puberty until the mid-twenties. However, the development of the frontal lobe is integral to determining success virtually in every area of life.
The correlation between mental health and screen time seems to be psychological and emotional rather than physical. Although they are not necessarily correlated to the simplest act of interest of interacting with screens they are more heavily based on what an individual is doing when using the device or screen.
WHAT PARENTS SHOULD DO
Using screen and other technology may be unavoidable in this modern day and age, however as a parent, you can set guidelines to keep your kid’s screen time in other to prevent negative mental health. Most importantly it is also advisable to keep an eye on your kids in other to observe if they show any sign of depression, stress, fatigue or mental health concern related to screen interaction.
For younger kids, observe them often to know if they ever seem to be revved up more than is typical. There is also a probability of them feeling both exhausted and energetic concurrently, it often happens to many of us when staring for too long on the screens. Kids who get angry or throw fit most especially when they have their device taken from them may need to have their screen time checked as soon as possible to prevent mental health condition.
It is also important to observe how kids behave apart from technology. We need to know how much they actually care about social media. Do they even care at all? We also need to ask ourselves some questions about their attention to distraction. Is their attention increasing to distraction or wandering?
Also for older children, it is important to check on their mental state. Whether they are more withdrawn than usual or show less interest in what they enjoy doing. Also, keep a track on their school performance. A sudden drop or decline in the quality of their grades or work could potentially be screen related.
However, no matter how much of time you and your kids spend on with screens, there is always an amazing benefit spending time in nature. Put your devices at home and go for a hike or work as a family. This beautiful moment will allow you to spend time with your family and also allow you to reconnect with your loved ones.
When you are thinking to set time boundaries on screen, here are some rules that will help you in the long run:
- Place a restriction on screen time after dinner and enforce it
- Encourage children not to stress their sight when using screen
- Advice your children to take a break regularly when using screen
- Encourage them to always stay hydrated when using screen
- Ensure they avoid video games during the week
- Set a specific time of day in which your kids can access their devices
- Have fewer devices charging cable lying around the house
- Use apps that let you have control of what you kids are doing
- Ask them about how they feel when they are using their screen in other to monitor their mental health
- Allow your children to select their screen period and check it out whether it is good for their mental health
- Have faith in your kids and let them have their trust in you
- Be a good role model never breach the rules you set
- Never prioritize materials over your kids
- Always be parents they are ready to confide in
- Love them always and often tell them how much you care about them