Too Much Screen Time? Part 2
Mental Health Impact
There is an emerging correlation between the amount of sleep we get and the amount of time we spend in front of a screen. Science is discovering that our sleep and even the quality of our sleep is impacted by our screen time.
And then it has a ripple effect, since if a person is sleep-deprived, it tends to affect the behavior of the individual. Then that will often have negative ramifications on their performance.
Because of the culture of our screens, there is a high amount of disruption and sensory overload. As more and more people, especially young people, begin spending more and more time focusing their attention on screens, the consequence has been linked to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Health professionals are discovering that individuals who spend six hours of screen time a day are more likely to suffer from moderate to severe depression.
Physical Health Impact
As well as negatively impacting the adult sleep cycle, using screens can also affect one’s physical health. Obesity is a common result of spending great amounts of time on screens like a television, video games, or a computer screen. Science shows that if the amount of screen time adolescents spend was limited, the likelihood of obesity can be reduced. This sedentary behavior is largely due to the nature of most electronic activities. Sitting to watch television, playing computer games or surfing the Internet takes time away from physical activities, which leads to an increased risk of weight gain. It has been found that children who watch 1–2 hours of television a day tend to be overweight or obese than children who watch less than one hour a day.
If anyone is being impacted by the scourge of screen time, it is the kids. The most obvious impact is the elimination of time that would otherwise be filled with physical activity. Science shows that approximately 47% of American children spend 2 or more hours per day on screen-based sedentary activities. Research results found that children who had high amounts of screen time had delayed white matter development, decreased ability to rapidly name objects, and poorer literacy skills. This contrasts with the 25.5% who reported at least 20 minutes of physical per day for a week. Excessive screen use also appears to negatively impact interpersonal skills. A UCLA study reported that “sixth-graders who went five days without screen use were significantly better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders with average screen use.”
The Quality of Sleep
Individuals who log in more screen-time have been linked with shorter sleep duration, decreased sleep efficiency, and longer sleep onset delay. The blue light emitted disrupts the body’s natural melatonin hormone production, thus delaying the individual’s ability to go to sleep. Normally, melatonin levels increase as the sun sets and remain at that increased state for the remainder of the night. Upon sunrise, melatonin levels drop off. Science shows that the blue wavelengths are closely connected to those from sunlight, which is what helps keep the body clock running smoothly.