Every new technology affects the psyche of those who use it and digital devices are no exception. Excessive screen use may create mental health complications, but devices also have positive psychological effects. Devices can help those in distress to seek support and promote healthy habits.
Screen Use Selectivity
The average adult uses smartphones, desktops and other devices for nine hours and twenty two minutes per day. Teenagers aren't far behind, using devices for nearly nine hours a day after homework and school use is excluded. This high level of use impacts mental health in a variety of ways. It can make people dependent on screens and increase stress and anxiety when they don’t have their smartphones with them, suggesting an unhealthy need to be plugged in at all times.
Given how many important tasks we rely on our devices for, there are limits to how much you can lower your screen use. Nonetheless, if you can reduce your device use even a little, your mental health will benefit. It is particularly important to scale back digital device use in the evening, as the blue light from screens can disrupt your sleep. Insomnia takes a toll on your mental health, so anything you can do to improve your sleep is worthwhile.
If used properly, digital devices can actively improve mental health, helping you prevent or recover from psychological problems. Mental health mobile apps are valuable resources for you and your family to identify and cope with mental illness. Popular programs include:
- Code Blue: Designed for teenagers who suffer from bullying and depression, this app alerts nearby support contacts if your child is in crisis. The contacts can text your child, call them, or request their location to visit them, providing the empathy and support they need to recover.
- Depression CBT: Based on the science of cognitive behavioral therapy, this program measures your moods, identifies signs of severe depression and teaches you how flawed responses may be making the problem worse. It also offers relaxing audio exercises to improve your mood.
- Breathe2Relax: This app will train you to perform breathing exercises that can moderate anxiety and anger, improve your mood and relieve stress. This both reduces the risk of a mental health crisis and helps you deal with one if it does happen.
- Positive Activity Jackpot: Social interaction is essential for maintaining good mental health. Positive Activity Jackpot identifies opportunities for external interaction, encouraging you to leave your home and engage with others.
Besides downloading apps, your devices provide easy access to information on psychological care. You can contact mental health experts, schedule counseling sessions and look up your symptoms to see if you have a problem. The more you take advantage of your devices, the better equipped you will be for mental illness.
Besides directly addressing mental health issues, digital devices can also provide indirect sources of mental health, namely by:
- Spurring Social Interaction: Although face-to-face conversations are always ideal, communicating over social media also allows you to engage with your friends and family. In addition, online platforms can alert you to events, clubs, and other opportunities to socialize in your area, giving you an additional incentive to leave your home and meet people. If you are having a crisis, you can call for help over social media.
- Promoting Fitness: In addition to making your body healthier, exercise is also good for your mind. Fitness apps remind you to exercise and track your progress toward particular health goals. This will reduce stress, eliminate anxiety and help get you out of your house.
- Enhancing Your Diet: As with fitness, improvements in your diet are as good for your mind as they are for your body. You can use your smartphone or computer to look up instructions or cooking videos for healthy, affordable recipes, as well as, places to buy the ingredients. You can also look for restaurants that offer nutritious food at a reasonable price.
Mental health is a lifelong process. By using digital devices moderately but effectively, you can keep your mind and body in full working order.