Plugging Back Into Reality
It’s Your Time, Enjoy It
In today’s technology-driven world, it is difficult to avoid spending any time away from a screen. The stark reality of the pandemic has made screen time skyrocket over the past two years as well. We are faced with constant images that induce anxiety and sadness. Day in and day out, news outlets report trauma, sadness, and despair worldwide. From countries getting bombed, strangers shooting each other in the street, protests over mandatory vaccinations, to the incessant reporting on the death toll of Covid-19. All of this can be overwhelming.
There is a wide swath of people in the U.S. who are still in self-imposed isolation. For some, it is feasible to go out while maintaining six feet of social distance, while others haven't seen their friends or family in person in over a year. The saving grace has been the advent of social media, Zoom, Facetime, and other outlets that have allowed us to stay in contact virtually. Unfortunately, it seems that no matter the activity screen time is involved. Have you ever stopped to think about the effect all that screen time has on your mental health?
Studies have shown that too much screen time has negative mental and physical effects on children, adolescents, and adults. Ask yourself, when was the last time you completely unplugged? When was the last time you left the laptop at home, turned off the smartphone, and did something that did not involve any form of electric connection? Your answers of how long it’s been since you’ve unplugged will likely surprise you.
Electronic Effects on Mental and Physical Health
We are constantly being bombarded with information, images, sounds, and conversations. In every waking moment, we are surrounded by smart devices, computers, phones, and technology beckoning for us to indulge. We’ve reached the point that many people admit feeling “naked” without their phone or electronic device.
The impact on teenagers has rung the alarm bells among parents as more screen time replaces things like sports, outdoor time, or other forms of healthy exercise. As obesity rates rise in pre-teens and adults, there are glaringly obvious links to excess screen time among this demographic.
The National Institute of Health has spent significant time researching whether too much screen time is lowering the intelligence of the younger generation. Furthermore, there is the question of what type of content children and adolescents are being exposed to as they stare into the abysmal darkness of their screen. This content is rife with an immense amount of marketing materials such as food, toys, and commercials selling everything needed to be considered cool.
An increasing number of mental health providers are beginning to examine how social media is linked to anxiety and depression. Do you wake up and immediately read your Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter feeds as if it’s the morning paper? This ceaseless yearning to forcefully indulge others in our lives or live vicariously through someone else’s social media is not a safe space for our psyche. The constant need to post your thoughts, opinions, hot gossip, flaws, or dinner is a defect of obsession and compulsion. Basing our worth on the number of likes, views, or retweets we receive on our socials is detrimental to our mental health.
There are a varied number of people who will say that they could care less about how many likes a picture or a post receives. While others will tell you plainly that their entire life happiness is attached to how many likes that they receive on all of the selfies they posted for the day. If that is not enough, the comments are what holds the key to happiness. Oscillating between any point on this spectrum can cause a decline in self-esteem because, in the end, you are a participant in the game of screen time.
Time to Unplug
Turn them all off. Yes, off. Disconnect. Unplug. Let go of the electronic leash of constant connection. You can do it. Set a time limit on how much time you and your family spend online. Better yet, declare electronic free zones during the day. An example of this is no phones during dinner. This can work whether you are single or have a family. If you have a family, collect all the phones and put them away for an hour or two. At first, you may find yourself constantly looking for your device. You may feel lost. You may not know what to do with yourself. Trust the process and know that by unplugging, you are doing your mental health and wellbeing a favor.
The world today is driven by consumer electronics and our ability to be connected anytime and in anyplace. Technology may make our lives easier but doesn’t necessarily have an enhanced effect on our mental health. The amount of time spent enveloped in a device’s screen can have a detrimental effect on our psyche. Don’t let your phone, computer, or social media take control of your life and mental wellbeing. If you are in the California, Oregon, and Alaska regions and are seeking relief from the anxiety and depression induced by excessive screen time, Achieve Medical Center may be right for you. We provide comprehensive, compassionate mental health and wellness services to children, adolescents, and adults. At Achieve Medical Center, we offer intentional treatment options, guided by empathetic, kind, and compassionate staff members who are committed to walking by your side every step of your treatment journey. Call us at (619) 375-3977 to schedule a free consultation.