November 7, 2018

Findings on screen times and mental health

Mad in America A new article – published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education – explores the role of smartphones and screen time. Jeff Cain, a researcher at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, reviews recent research on the contribution of technology to amplified distress among young adults and calls for a recognition of the risks of screen time in childhood wellness programs.

Cain makes a case for the substantial impact of screen time on young adult health by shedding light on the following findings:
  • One study identified a significant, negative correlation between happiness and screen time. That is, increased daily screen time is associated with decreased overall happiness. The implications of this study highly depend on the operationalization of happiness, but the research suggests that compromised life satisfaction associated with screen time.
  • The carefully curated nature of social media has been empirically examined and has been found to take a toll on young adults’ self-esteem.
  • The looming pressure to be continuously available to friends, educators, and coworkers can make it difficult for young people ever to disconnect from their screens.
  • A number of studies have linked screen time and anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance.
  • Screen time can, in some cases, function as an addiction. Interestingly, “Neuroimaging studies show that Internet addiction (of which smartphone and social media addictions are a subset) shows similar increases in activity in brain regions associated with substance-related addictions.”
  • The heightened reliance on technology in the classroom increases the need for students to be “plugged-in,” and sometimes necessitates screen time.

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