Mental well-being and digital devices: the impact of screen time on mental health (2023)

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world are more connected than ever to their digital devices. Studies show that93.6% of AmericansSignificantly increased screen time after lockdown began. There's a good reason for this connection, too: when the world shut down and people couldn't physically go to school, work, or activities, the internet found a way to keep life going despite lockdowns and people's inability to travel . 🇧🇷

Obviously, the power that the internet has given us is immense and useful in some ways. We can do our most important activities from anywhere. We can feel close to family members whether they live on the same continent as us or not. We can shop even when the shops aren't open. However, the impact of our internet addiction hasn't been all positive. Research has shown that our addiction to screens also has a negative impact on our mental health.

Due to excessive screen usage over the last year, people's mental well-being is declining and it is important to understand what these effects are and why they have occurred if you want to protect the well-being of your loved ones. Read on to understand the connection between mental wellbeing and digital devices, and the right way to moderate your (and your family's) screen time to ensure that screens only enhance your quality of life, not distract from it.

How people use their devices

Before the invention of smartphones and wearable smart devices, computing usage was mostly limited to PC and laptop usage. Now that smart devices are proliferating in the market and people of all ages can access the internet in myriad ways, spending time on a virtual device is more convenient than ever. And a lot of people don't just spend time looking at one screen every day — they watch a lot.

Think with Googleshowed that 80% of users look at a smartphone every day and 57% of people use more than one device with a screen every day. Only 14% go online with a computer (laptop or PC only) - which means that computer use is not just limited to an office, classroom or desk, but can take place anywhere a person is - increasing the likelihood that they spend a significant part of their lives online.

Screen usage can be both good and bad. When people go online, they can work or take classes. You could be corresponding with friends who live far away, or watching/listening to an exciting new movie or album release. However, screen time can also negatively impact a person's mental health for a variety of reasons. Learn how the use of digital devices can benefit people's well-being and how it can also harm people's mental well-being.

(Video) Consequences for kids' of endless screen time

How digital devices promote mental well-being

Below are common ways to use a digital device or connect to the internet to increase your mental well-being.

Increased sense of self-efficacy

Many computer users report that they feel fulfilled when learning a new computer or technical task. By using a device that helps them accomplish something, or by learning how to use new software or hardware they have never used before, people can increase their mental well-being because they feel more competent and empowered are to handle things better independently.

extended community

When people use their devices to play video games, they can experience a greater sense of community. This is especially true for people who play community games. Multiplayer games that allow people to connect with others outside of the home can often result in social and emotional benefits from these games.

Decreased distraction depression

Studies have shownthat children and adolescents suffering from depression had fewer depressive symptoms when they spent limited time watching engaging material, such as television programs or films, on their screens. Entertainment such as TV shows and movies can be immersive and disturbing and require the use of the imagination. For example, using screens for entertainment can alleviate negative thought patterns and help children escape from distressing emotions. However, the time spent with entertainment on screens should be limited so as not to interfere with the activities and routines of daily living.

Less psychosocial stress for adults

Adults who have learned to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have experienced lesspsychosocial stressthan their peers who don't use social media. Because social media allows for connection with people far away and can be a way to reconnect when the rest of life is hectic, it can be a useful tool in reducing the negative feelings that stem from a lack of relationships in adulthood develop.

Reduce stress by making busy work easier

One of the ways that screens have improved people's lives is by making life's hard work easier. Instead of going to the supermarket, people can use the internet to buy groceries. You can set up recurring orders for housewares so they don't have to think about going to the grocery store. And devices can, for example, fill our calendars and send reminders so we don't forget important events, making life easier and more convenient. Stress can wreak havoc on people's mental well-being. If devices with screens can relieve stress, they can improve mental health and make life easier and more enjoyable for all who benefit from their helpful features.

(Video) Screens May Affect Your Child's Brain Development | Better | NBC News

How digital devices negatively impact mental well-being

There are clear mental health benefits to spending time in front of screens. However, it has been repeatedly shown that too much screen time has a negative impact on mental health. Here are some ways that digital device use can impact mental well-being.

Causes depression from overuse of devices

ONEStudy 2017showed that excessive use of digital devices increased depression among users. Adolescents and adults who spent more than six hours a day looking at screens were much more likely to suffer from moderate to severe depression than those who spent less time on their screens. Experts believe one factor that increases depression in people who rely on screens is disconnection.

Spending so much time alone in front of a screen can increase feelings of isolation and disrupt real connections in the real world. The lack of real human connections increases people's feelings of depression, and their attempts to alleviate depression through screen time can create a vicious cycle that only makes their depression worse.

interrupt or am

Too much screen time has been shown to negatively impact sleep. Time spent staring at the blue light from a screen — especially at night — can disrupt circadian rhythms, ultimately decreasing the quality and duration of sleep. Insufficient sleep can seriously affect a person's mental health, including an increase in anxiety and depression.

Creating feelings of low self-esteem based on social comparisons

People who spend a lot of time on social media may have lower self-esteem because they spend more time comparing themselves to online peers. Social media users don't just compare themselves to friends and family they actually know and are connected to. They also compare themselves to celebrities and influencers who are on the platform — and it can be detrimental to a person's mental health to compare their own life to the life of someone whose existence appears perfect. Other effects of low self-esteem can include negative self-talk and body image issues, both of which can further negatively impact mental well-being when a person experiences them.

Decreasing opportunities for physical activity and exercise

The longer people sit and use their screens, the less time they spend moving and exercising. Exercise can significantly improve mental health. Mental health benefits include reduced anxiety, improved depression, better sleep, increased self-esteem, and more. When screen use interferes with exercise, long-term physical and mental risks can result.

(Video) Kids' Mental Health And How To Protect Them

Expose children and young people (and adults) to the risks of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a widespread problem on the internet. The truth is,studies showthat more than 50% of young people aged 10-18 have experienced some form of cyberbullying in their lifetime. The more time young people spend connecting with peers and strangers online, the greater the risk of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can have serious negative mental health effects, including feelings of anxiety and depression and even suicidal thoughts. Limiting the time online and the types of activities your children can engage in online can help minimize the chances that they will be bullied online.

Tips to minimize the negative effects of screen time on mental health

Drastically reducing people's use of screens today would probably be impossible - and that would prevent them from reaping all the benefits that can come from using digital devices. The best way to ensure screen time isn't impacting your sanity is to use devices properly and be mindful of how much time you spend looking at screens. Here are some tips to minimize the negative impact of screen time on mental health and well-being.

Balance screen time with extracurricular activities

Give your kids limited screen time for schoolwork, entertainment, or just hanging out with friends. But make up for the screen time by scheduling them in extracurricular activities where they don't use their phones.studies showthat teens who engage in more extracurricular activities (and less screen time) achieve the best mental health outcomes, and you can help them build more human connections and nurture connections by helping them engage in extracurricular activities find the ones they love.

Make rooms screenless

Everyone in the family has to follow one rule: bedrooms don't have screens. This can have a number of mental well-being benefits: It can help improve sleep, as people don't absorb blue light when they should be trying to sleep. And it can help your kids use screens safely and not be bullied online without letting you know what's going on. Consider allowing screen use only in central and public areas of the home.

Monitor kids' screen time

Children should not be allowed to use their digital devices alone. Keep computers and gadgets where you can see them and make it a rule for children that they can only use their gadgets when they are in the room with an adult. Being in the room with your child when they are using a device and being within sight can help ensure that they are not looking at anything inappropriate or upsetting. You can also see who they're talking to to make sure they don't get into a stressful situation without knowing what they're doing. Screen time monitoring keeps everyone safe and reduces feelings of stress.

(Video) Screen Time, The Digital Detox and Mental Health

Book times to switch off

Schedule a time when you and all family members can unwind. Maybe all screens need to be off during dinnertime, or maybe you have phone-free weekends. Whatever boundaries you set, knowing you'll be connecting with loved ones and when everyone's eyes and brains get a break from staring at their digital screens, you can rest assured there will be time.

Make an appointment to move

Make sure you balance your screen time with the time you're out in the world. You can exercise by walking or jogging, or doing something that just gets you moving, such as B. to walk through a shopping mall. Even as an adult, planning activities can ensure you get enough exercise to boost your mental health and naturally pull you away from the screen to ensure you have a break from just spending time in the virtual world.


There is no doubt that our digital devices and the internet have connected and empowered the world in more ways than we ever imagined. Even during a deadly global pandemic, the internet and computers have allowed us to thrive and function despite not being safe to leave our homes or participate in regular activities. For all the benefits that come with the development of technology, however, our reliance on screens and the way they connect people also has its downsides.

Luckily, however, you have some understanding of how screen use can negatively impact your mental health or well-being, and are looking for ways to use screens in healthy ways (and also in less-healthy ways so you can avoid them). you can ensure that you and your loved ones are using digital devices as safely as possible. In this way, your devices can only be tools for more productivity, connection and entertainment in your family and not machines that pose some risk to those who use them, whether those risks are psychological or physical. Let your devices enrich your life and well-being, not distract from it.

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Additional reading:

  • What are the effects of cyberbullying?
  • Infographic: Webcam spying: keeping an eye on online fears
  • How to deal with trolling, bots and fake accounts


How does screen time affect your mental health? ›

The outcomes are conflicting, with many studies finding negative mental health effects of using screens such as depression, anxiety, and brain fog. Some more positive outcomes include creativity, increased wellbeing, and elevated psychosocial effects of using social media in adults.

How do digital devices affect mental health? ›

Teens and adults who spent time looking at screens for more than six hours a day were much more likely to experience moderate to severe depression than those who spent less time with their screens. Experts believe that one factor increasing the depression for people relying on screens is disconnectedness.

What do you think is the effects of modern technology on your mental health and well being? ›

Social media and mobile devices may lead to psychological and physical issues, such as eyestrain and difficulty focusing on important tasks. They may also contribute to more serious health conditions, such as depression. The overuse of technology may have a more significant impact on developing children and teenagers.

How does screen time affect health and wellness? ›

Too much screen time can lead to obesity, sleep problems, chronic neck and back problems, depression, anxiety and lower test scores in children. Children should limit screen time to 1 to 2 hours per day. Adults should also try to limit screen time outside of work hours.

What factors affect screen time? ›

Several intrapersonal (e.g., age), interpersonal (e.g., parental television watching, parental rules), and physical environment (e.g., television in child's bedroom) factors within the home setting are related to screen time among school-aged children and youth [17, 18].

How social media affects mental health? ›

Research studies note the connection between use of social media and its undesirable outcomes that increase incidence of anxiety, stress, depression, body image concerns, and loneliness in teens and young adults (APA, 2022).

Do mobile phones affect mental health? ›

Sometimes, though, being connected to everything all of the time can put pressure on an individual and has the potential to affect their mental health should they miss out on something or momentarily lose that connection. This is commonly known as the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and it can be harmful.

Why is technology important in mental health? ›

Anonymity: Clients can seek treatment options without involving other people. An introduction to care: Technology may be a good first step for those who have avoided mental health care in the past. Lower cost: Some apps are free or cost less than traditional care.

Does digital mental health work? ›

Overall, most published studies show telephonic mental health care is as effective as in-person care in treating depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Does technology have a negative impact on mental health? ›

Vitalli noted that research also has observed a link between certain mental illnesses and internet addiction, including depression, low self-esteem and loneliness.

What are 5 negative effects of technology? ›

Eight Negative Impacts of Technology
  • Depression and Other Mental Health Issues. A University of Michigan study found that Facebook use led to a decrease in happiness and overall life satisfaction. ...
  • Lack of Sleep. ...
  • ADHD. ...
  • Obesity. ...
  • Learning Barriers. ...
  • Decreased Communication and Intimacy. ...
  • Cyberbullying. ...
  • Loss of Privacy.
22 Jul 2019

What are the positive and negative effects of technology in today's life? ›

What are the effects of technology? It has both positive and negative effect. Some of them are increasing satisfaction, better communication channels, eliminating geographical boundaries and some negatives are obesity, health issues, sleep problems, etc.

How does screen time affect students? ›

While some children cope fine and manage the high and lows of social media interaction, many others are prone to the anxiety, stress, and depression that can, according to some surveys, stem from screen time. “It's all that scrolling. Social media is a highlight reel for these kids,” says Dr.

How does screen time affect our brains? ›

Just minutes of screen stimulation can delay melatonin release by several hours and desynchronize the body clock. Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. Plus, high arousal doesn't permit deep sleep, and deep sleep is how we heal.

How do you keep your screen time healthy? ›

Tips on Managing Your Screen Time for Good Mental Health
  1. Manage your news consumption. ...
  2. Curate your social media feeds. ...
  3. Turn off or limit notifications on your phone. ...
  4. Take steps to maintain your focus. ...
  5. Resist screen time when you're bored, distracted, or stressed. ...
  6. Don't use electronic devices during meals.

Who does screen time affect the most? ›

The effects of screen time can have a substantial negative impact on your kid's brain. A recent study by the National Institutes of Health showed that kids who spend more than two hours a day on screen time activities score lower on language and thinking tests.

How does screen time affect stress? ›

The lights and stimuli from screens stress our anatomy, and screen time causes repeated stress on the Central Nervous System. As a result, we can become angry, impulsive, isolated, aggressive and less empathetic. More and more Americans are becoming addicted to their screens, leading to serious mental health problems.

How does screen time affect social life? ›

The study says, in part, “The more time you spend looking at a screen, the less time you spend interacting in person with others. This makes it more difficult to establish interpersonal connections and strong relationships, which are important for mental health and the health of the community at large.”

What are Negative Impact of social media? ›

Social media harms

However, social media use can also negatively affect teens, distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people's lives and peer pressure. The risks might be related to how much social media teens use.

How does social media affect mental health and body image? ›

Body image influences self-esteem, self-acceptance, and someone's general outlook on life, which are three important mental health indicators. With social media full of unrealistic body image standards, a negative body image is enforced and can be harmful to your health.

What are the positive and negative effects of mobile phone? ›

Smartphones have a positive impact that is useful for learning online, looking for material that we do not understand on the internet, and others. On the other hand, smartphones also have a negative impact, namely on students who are addicted to using smartphones, cheat on assignments, lack focus in learning, etc.

What are the advantages of mobile phones to your mental health? ›

Meanwhile, smartphone apps that play subliminal relaxing music in order to distract from the noise and worries of everyday living have been proven to be beneficial in reducing stress and anxiety. Technology can also provide greater access to mental health professionals through email, online chats or video calls.

What are the side effects of watching mobile? ›

Physical Effects of Addiction
  • Digital eye strain. The pain and discomfort associated with viewing a digital screen for over 2 hours. ...
  • Neck problems. ...
  • Increased illnesses due to germs. ...
  • Car accidents. ...
  • Male infertility.

What technology is used in mental health? ›

The first innovative technology used for mental health treatments is Visual Simulation Technology (VST) or Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET). For patients who have agoraphobia, panic disorder, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), VST or VRET is an amazing tool.

What are the positive effects of technology? ›

The usefulness of technology in staying connected, working from home, and having access to medical services has been evident in these challenging times. Expanded security, enhanced communication, increased information, education, and, last but not least, amusement are vital aspects of technology.

How can I protect my mental well online? ›

Online coping strategies

Focus on connecting with people who make you feel good about yourself. Check your privacy settings so those people who make you feel bad can't see your profile. Indulge yourself with the lighter side of the internet and share all the pictures of cats and cake that make you feel good.

Why is online learning good for mental health? ›

Less Negative Competition

Students who prefer a less competitive environment may be left behind and lose interest. Online schools focus more on the student than how they measure up to peers. This may be better for students who find that competition impacts their mental health.

Is online learning good for mental health? ›

The study reported by Aristovnik et al. concluded that online learning students were more likely to interrupt their studies and felt more socially isolated, compared with students receiving traditional education (34). Social isolation and loneliness increased the risk of depression and anxiety (42).

How does social media affect mental health negative? ›

The negative aspects of social media

However, multiple studies have found a strong link between heavy social media and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and even suicidal thoughts. Social media may promote negative experiences such as: Inadequacy about your life or appearance.

How has technology affected your life? ›

Technology affects almost every aspect of 21st century life, from transport efficiency and safety to access to food and healthcare, socialization and productivity. The power of the internet has enabled global communities to form, and ideas and resources to be shared more easily.

How does technology affect your brain? ›

Technology Use Can Create Structural Changes in the Brain.

Pings, alerts, rings, and notifications can shift our focus in a way that can lead to long-lasting difficulties with paying attention. Difficulties paying attention can lead to poorer performance on academic, personal, and professional tasks.

How does technology affect human behavior? ›

In a way, we are becoming addicted to it. Addiction to gaming among children is a fine example of this, reflecting very poorly in their school grades. Think about how the internet changed our social behavior. Now we interact more on phone calls, emails which have replaced the traditional way of meeting face to face.

What are the problems caused by technology addiction? ›

Technology addictions can have a severe impact on one's mental health, exacerbating or contributing to anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as other disorders. Technology addiction also can lead to restlessness, irritability, agitation, and anger.

What are the positive effects of technology on students? ›

Using technology in classrooms has the potential to create increased student motivation, increased social interactions, positive outcomes, enhanced student learning, and enhanced student engagement. Technology is capable of unlocking keys of learning with all students.

Is technology helpful or harmful? ›

In conclusion, technology is beneficial for humans and society. Even with its negative effects, it has helped society progress to a more advanced level where we can accomplish tasks and problems with ease.

Is screen time beneficial or harmful? ›

With moderation, there are some benefits of screen time to children: educational value and school-related homework and research. playing video games can improve motor skills and coordination. internet tools, texting, and shared video games are easy and fun ways to socialize and communicate.

How does screen time affect development? ›

Screens reduce empathy

Research has shown that screen time inhibits young children's ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key factors needed to develop empathy. Face-to-face interactions are the only way young children learn to understand non-verbal cues and interpret them.

Does screen time affect your face? ›

And if that's the case, staring at screens for hours at a time can break down skin's collagen supply, leading to premature signs of aging like wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots. Besides taking breaks from the screen, protect your complexion against blue light damage by wearing mineral sunscreen daily.

Does screen time affect behavior? ›

It found that kids with more screen time had an 11% higher risk of more externalizing behavior problems like aggression or inattention. Meanwhile, more screen time was also associated with a 7% higher risk of internalizing problems like anxiety and depression, according to the research.

Does too much screen time affect physical and mental health? ›

“Excess screen time effects can include depression, obesity, poor quality of life, unhealthy diet and decreased physical and cognitive abilities.

How does screen time affect adults? ›

Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time:

Eye Strain and Headaches - Too much time spent looking at screens can cause fatigue or discomfort in your eyes as well as dimmed vision. Glare on screens and the brightness of the display can place further strain on your eyes. Eventually, this strain can lead to headaches.

What are good screen habits? ›

Set consistent rules about how much screen time is allowed, as well as when and where. Keep TVs and devices out of bedrooms, and turn off TVs when no one is watching. Set screen-free zones (such as not at the dinner table), screen-free times (such as not during family game night) and device curfews.

What does screen time mean? ›

Screen time can be described as the time spent viewing of TV/video, computer, electronic games, hand-held devices or other visual devices.

How does screen time cause depression? ›

Ivanov cautions screens are taking us away from the real relationships in our lives. “Spending extensive hours in front of the computer and smartphone affects your personal life, family, kids, any relationships,” he says. Screen time is also a sedentary behavior, and high sedentary levels are linked to depression.

How does screen time affect anxiety? ›

increasing screen time was generally linked to progressively lower psychological well-being.” The researchers also noted that, “High users of screens were also significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression.”

What happens to your brain with too much screen time? ›

Early data from a landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) study that began in 2018 indicates that children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests, and some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain's ...

How does screen time affect mental health in kids? ›

Higher risk for anxiety and depression

Additionally, just spending more time behind the screen can decrease a child's psychological well-being, according to a recent study published in Preventive Medicine Reports. The same study also detailed the psychological differences between high and low screen time users.

Is too much screen time impacting my quality of life? ›

Studies have also linked screen time with sleep problems and suggest that the blue light our devices emit can impact our circadian rhythms, the natural cycles in the body that affect waking and sleeping. Studies show that light can disrupt our body clocks and make us more awake at night.

How do cell phones affect mental health? ›

Excessive smartphone and social media use can raise “mental distress, self-injurious behavior and suicidality among youth”; the effect is higher among girls, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Smartphone addicted individuals often experience increased loneliness.

How does screen time affect self esteem? ›

The constant stream of unrealistic visual content delivered through social media can be overwhelming and lead to mental health concerns including feelings of inadequacy, depression and low self-esteem. This is especially concerning for children and teens.

How does technology affect our brains? ›

Technology Use Can Create Structural Changes in the Brain.

Pings, alerts, rings, and notifications can shift our focus in a way that can lead to long-lasting difficulties with paying attention. Difficulties paying attention can lead to poorer performance on academic, personal, and professional tasks.

How can people manage their screen use? ›

10 tips to manage screen time
  1. Make a family media plan. ...
  2. Be present when screens are used. ...
  3. Talk with your kids about acceptable screen use. ...
  4. Encourage screen use that is educational, active, or social. ...
  5. Help your children choose good content. ...
  6. Schedule “screen-free” times. ...
  7. Turn off screens when not in use.
6 Mar 2020

Does screen time affect focus? ›

Screen Time and ADHD

Electronics allow for repeated stimulation and immediate gratification every few seconds. And when we become accustomed to such rapid and frequent stimulation, it can be hard to focus when things in the real world aren't as mesmerizing.

How does screen time affect social and brain development? ›

Screens reduce empathy

Research has shown that screen time inhibits young children's ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key factors needed to develop empathy. Face-to-face interactions are the only way young children learn to understand non-verbal cues and interpret them.

Does technology affect kids mental health? ›

Overall, in terms of the relationship between screen use and both physical and mental health outcomes, there have been several studies that suggest higher levels of screen use in children and adolescents is associated with reduced physical activity, increased risk of depression, and lower well-being.

Is too much screen time affecting your child's health? ›

Too much screen time can: Make it hard for your child to sleep at night. Raise your child's risk for attention problems, anxiety, and depression. Raise your child's risk for gaining too much weight (obesity)


1. How Is Your Phone Changing You?
2. How digital technologies affect adolescent psychological well-being and mental health - Dr Amy Orben
(Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health)
(Jon Coker)
4. Screen Time & Digital Wellness in Infants, Children and Adolescents II DR Medical Lectures
(DR medical lectures)
5. The drug-like effect of screen time on the teenage brain
(PBS NewsHour)
6. A Look at Their Mental Health: Anxiety and Digital Well-Being (Dave Scholz & Emmanuelle Parent)
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