There are screens everywhere we look — including where you are reading this article — and many times we are unaware of the toll it takes on people’s mental health and the consequences of screen time on brain development and the body’s ability to regulate.

Screen time refers to “the time a person spends looking at a screen on a device such as a television, smartphone, computer or game console,” according to Dr. Nicole Williams, Ph.D., Rapid advancements in technology have integrated screens and lights into society at the point where it is now seen as fundamental in daily life. The effects of screens have been glaring, but also undetected.

How Screens Can Affect Sleep

When it comes to sleep, screens have been replacing other activities before bed. The time of use with blue light and intense light decrease sleep quality, notifications and sounds at night disrupt circadian rhythms, screens can delay bedtimes and wake-up times and cause more daytime fatigue from lack of quality sleep.

Nakshine et al describes our ever-increasing digital crisis, saying “Dependency on digital devices resulting in an ever-increasing daily screen time has subsequently also been the cause of several adverse effects on physical and mental or psychological health. Constant exposure to devices like smartphones, personal computers and television can severely affect mental health — increase stress and anxiety, for example — and cause various sleep issues in both children as well as adults.”

How Screens Can Cause Mental Health Issues

Stress regulation is deeply affected by screen time and digital consumption. Cortisol, the hormone that acts like a stress biomarker, is related to an increase in screen time, according to the article, which states, “as much as three hours per day of media usage by school-aged children results in a lessened cortisol surge an hour after waking up, which is detrimental to their development,” and thus causes co-occurring health concerns because of lower cortisol.

Insulin resistance, vision impairment, headaches, eye strain, dry eyes, sedentary habits, depression and suicidal behavior have all been linked to an overconsumption of media. Even FOMO, or a a Fear of Missing Out can contribute to a decline in mental health stability.

Some effects of screen time over usage are depression, anxiety and brain fog, as well as the inability to regulate consumption of media, cyberbullying/harassment and self-isolation.

Regulation of screen time is vital to progressive mental health stability and recovery.

There are benefits to screens and our immediate access to information, including increased psychosocial relationships, increase in creativity and an increase in overall well-being for adults.

However, the recommended hours of screen consumption daily are two, and more can lead to mental health issues.

Contact University Behavioral Center

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues due to screen time, please reach out to us today to get mental health help through one of our programs. University Behavioral Center, located in Orlando, Florida, is here to help with 24/7 free and confidential assessments. The comprehensive assessments are performed by a qualified clinician and is shared with our assessment team.

University Behavioral Center is divided into two physically separate wings: the child and adolescent wing, and the adult wing. Each wing is subdivided into secured units. Secure 24-hour supervision helps promote patient safety and a therapeutic treatment environment.

University Behavioral Center is within the Central Florida Research Park Development and neighbors the University of Central Florida. University Behavioral Center’s treatment facilities include a swimming pool, a wellness center and gymnasium, and an outdoor reflection atrium.

For more information on the programs offered at University Behavioral Center, call us at 407-281-7000 or reach out to us online.

Nakshine V S, Thute P, Khatib M, et al. (October 08, 2022) Increased Screen Time as a Cause of Declining Physical, Psychological Health, and Sleep Patterns: A Literary Review. Cureus 14(10): e30051. doi:10.7759/cureus.30051

Babic, M. J. et al., (2017) Longitudinal associations between changes in screen-time and mental health outcomes in adolescents – ScienceDirect.