Too Much Screen Time & Anxiety

Preventative Medicine Reports suggests that kids ages 2 – 17 who spend more than 7 hours a day on a screen are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression than those who use screens for an hour a day. More specifically, the study found that high users show less curiosity, self-control, and emotional stability.

But kids aren’t the only ones racking up too much screen time. Half of the teens who participated in this survey felt that their parents are distracted by their cellphones during a conversation. 58% are checking for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up – and almost half of the respondents felt they lose focus at work because they are checking their cellphone.

Now you may ask yourself – how many kids are actually spending more than 7 hours a day on a screen? Which leads to the next question: what devices does the word “screens” entail?

What does the word “screen” include?

  • Cell phone
  • Computer
  • Tablet
  • TV’s
  • Smart watches
  • iPod
  • Gaming systems

How does too much screen time lead to anxiety?

Always feeling connected to your phone can be stressful. That feeling of “always being available” may have sounded good at one point. But since we now live in this world where we expect instant gratification and instant answers, it can give one a feeling of always having to “be there”.

Social media is a huge proponent in causing anxiety, too. Social comparison can be a real thing, for kids and adults alike. While you may feel immune to the topic, it’s tough to not compare yourself to what you are seeing on social media. In fact, a trendy term FOMO, or fear of missing out, is very relatable to this topic. Not only is there the comparison factor, but FOMO can prompt one to keep checking social media to see what’s going on.

And of course the news, media, and everything that is pushed out to us can cause anxiety. In times past, we had a choice when we wanted to see or hear about news. This is not the case anymore.

Are you addicted to your phone?

Some suggested ways to check in with yourself to see if you are addicted to your phone:

  • You reach for your phone the moment you wake up, are alone or are bored.
  • Many nights, you wake up to check your phone.
  • You feel anxious or upset when you can’t get to your phone or you can’t locate it.
  • Your phone use has caused you to have an accident or injury.
  • Phone use interferes with your job performance, schoolwork, or relationships.

How to do a digital detox

Disconnect from screens and reconnect with nature with the following tips. Only you can decide what this realistically can look like. You decide the length and reality of what you can avoid. If you have to work at a desk on a computer during the week, unless you don’t go to work, that obviously won’t work fo you. Set realistic boundaries.

  1. Don’t check your phone, watch or other devices for the first few hours of the day. Instead, make sure to get outside within the first hour, even if for just 15 minutes.
  2. Avoid social media for the chosen time – 3, 4, 5 days, whatever timing works for you.
  3. No devices in the bedroom. That means no turning on the TV if you have one in there.
  4. Turn off notifications on your watch, phone, etc. Remember to include all push notifications.
  5. Opt for alternate activities, such as spending time outdoors, connecting with friends and family, or reading a book.
  6. Keep a journal and track your experience. Try something new with your free time!

Living a low-stress and low anxiety life is something that many people strive to do. The holidays can be an especially stressful time. Take any and all actions to do your best to lower your stress, starting with limiting your screen time. If you have tips that you’d like to share relating to this, please share them in the comments below!