Excess screen time chips away at our mental health, claims report

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Excess screen time chips away at our mental health, claims report

| Updated: January 29, 2024 11:38

Using electronic devices or screens nonstop negatively affects our health in several ways without us even realising it. Living a life driven by technology is putting us at risk for a host of illnesses and ailments, from affecting sleep quality and brain function to encouraging obesity and depression.

An extensive analysis published in The Hindustan Times says that a few minutes of screen time can cause the body clock to be thrown off, which can cause hormone imbalances and inflammation in the brain. 

It can also delay the release of melatonin by several hours. Excess dopamine released by screen time and gaming can desensitise our brain’s reward system, making it harder to concentrate on meaningful work.

Not to mention the potential risk of chronic stress that comes with increased screen time. Dependency on the virtual world and avoiding real-world interaction can also lead to feelings of loneliness.

The HT report adds that limiting screen time can positively impact our mental health, even if we cannot give up electronics entirely. Turning off all screens two hours before bed supports the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Reducing screen time can also improve focus and problem-solving abilities while aiding in brain regeneration. Because it encourages mindfulness, taking a break from screens can help us manage stress more effectively. 

The report suggests that meeting a friend is more joyful than binge-watching.

Dr Jyoti Kapoor, founder-director and senior psychiatrist, Manasthali, told the daily that excess screen time, particularly right before bed, can interfere with our regular sleep-wake cycle. Screen radiation emits blue light, which disrupts the synthesis of melatonin, a hormone that controls sleep. People who spend less time on screens at night may get better sleep, increasing their emotional and mental fortitude.

She recommends screen breaks that allow the brain to recover and rejuvenate, enhancing focus, creativity, and problem-solving abilities and bringing a sense of calm and mindfulness.

Further, she cautions about the pitfalls of overindulgence in screen time, leading to social isolation and a sedentary lifestyle.

She notes that spending time away from screens encourages physical activity, which results in a positive mental state.

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