How Digital Devices Affect You
Even before COVID changed us to a screen-based society, electronic device usage had been increasing at a significant rate. Because constant use of this technology is so new to all of us, we aren't able to gauge the long-term effects yet. But we can determine the short term effects and get a glimpse of what those long-term effects could be. And the outlook is not good.
Because of COVID, digital devices have become a replacement for classroom learning, in-person meetings and most likely the primary way we keep informed on news. The reliance on social media and digital technology to keep us informed and entertained has also undoubtedly increased, driving us to check notifications and scroll more frequently than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social media is engineered to crave our attention and give us psychological or other rewards for being attentive. They tap into human nature by making us feel good in seeking likes, connections, comments, followers and views. And the primary way to view this information is on small, electronic devices.
Since the advance of smartphone capabilities and social media over the last decade, researchers have found that use of digital devices and social media can impact mental health in major ways. Spending countless hours on social media can have long-lasting negative effects on the body and mind, including:
• Feelings of stress and anxiety about being left out or missing something
• Interruptions in sleep patterns and inability to relax and unplug
• Impact on self-esteem, harmful effects of cyber-bullying or perceptions we might have of ourselves
• Feelings of fatigue, eye-strain or reduced interest in physical activity
• Back pain, joint pain, or poor posture from sitting for long periods over keyboards or screens
So how can reduce this "dependence on digital devices"? Here are some tips:
1. Set timers for social media apps on your smartphone and tablet. Using timers will serve as reminder for how much time you’ve spent scrolling on a daily basis and help you better manage it.
2. Set aside time for non-screen time. Going for a walk and reading a book are great ways to create space between you and your device.
3. Take a digital detox. You should designated at least on day a week (if possible) to completely eliminate using your device. You may be surprised at how much this can improve your state of mind.
4. Limit “doomscrolling.” This refers to the habitual surfing or scrolling through bad news. It’s easy to find yourself continuously digesting bad news without realizing it. Try to be aware and stop it.
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Posted In: Neurofeedback