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How Screentime Affects Teens & Adults?

Our brain goes through major transformations during teenage period. This could be the reason why teenagers are vulnerable to the impacts of screen time on their brain functions as well as their emotional well-being.

We had been talking about digital devices are now easily and commonly offered to children, toddler or even infants, it might be easier to just stop offering them devices or reduce their screen time. Nevertheless, for teenagers and adults like us, who have stronger wills and with higher capability to approach devices, we should look into how screen times had affected them physically and mentally. You may then consider whether you want to take that habit off or not.

If you read the article about how screen time affects children’s health, you might have successfully reduced your screen time, but if you missed them out, no worries! Here’s a recap link to reach those methods to kick off the habit: click here!

Our brain goes through major transformations during teenage period. This could be the reason why teenagers are vulnerable to the impacts of screen time on their brain functions as well as their emotional well-being.

Besides from experiencing affects that screen time brought to kids, such as poorer sleep quality and weight gain, teenagers who are going through a different life stage may have further impacts led by the use of digital devices.

Not only about staying up late just to spend more time they have on digital devices, but a study in 2015 of 10,000 16- to 19- year-olds in Norway stated that those who had four or more hours of screen time a day despite of their daily routine, had 50 percent more possibilities of lying awake for an hour or more before they could fall asleep. This could have proven a damaging effect of screen time on teens and even adults.

A research done among adults found that heavy computer and mobile phone use relates to more sleep disturbances as the blue light from digital devices actually supresses the sleep-promoting hormone, melatonin, which might have keeping us from having restful sleep. The blue light might also affect our vision as well as the poor posture that we constantly have while exposing to devices, may cause neck and shoulder pain too.

Watching two or more hours of TV increase the risk of gaining weight in both teenagers and adults. Higher cholesterol and blood pressure level are found in kids who had longer TV hours but for adults, it increases the risk of having diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, computer use does have a linkage to health issues too.

A study reported spending four hours or more in front of a computer of TV doubles the likelihood of dying or being hospitalized for heart disease and even extra exercise will not reduce the risk. More exposure to screen time will still affect our physical health due to having lesser active time, poorer sleep quality, some types of cancer and also seeing more ads for unhealthy foods that we may crave later.

Spending more time on TV and video games affects attention and will then negatively contribute on learning ability. As teenagers and adults are having developed speech, yet, the area being affected with excessive usage of screen time would then be on self-confidence, social skills, emotions as well as personality.

Does it really affect self-confidence level? I would say, yes. Watching videos may have trigger low self-esteem issues and for individuals who are having issues like this, there will be an impact on their self-confidence level too.

To manage and maintain healthy relationships and overall well-being, time used to explore and creating own experiences is the key to develop self-confidence level. Losing time to communicate and to spare little more time mingle around with human beings, is it possible for human to regress back to primitive state? This is another question that worth looking into.

You might be asking me about those chatting app that you are using on devices or those apps that you get to know new friends? We can never deny that how internet and online experiences benefits our lives, but for some individuals, they may just hide behind the screen to avoid tricky or awkward conversations, like approaching a new group of friends or someone they would like to befriend with.

Do you still think it is a healthy way to just engage with devices while chatting online reduces the development of our social skills? It may even drive a person to be having higher tendency to have social awkwardness. This increases the possibilities of having online bullying as it lack of face-to-face interaction and people tend to take less responsibilities when identity is not easy to be tracked.

Emotionally or psychologically, researchers found that spending two hours or more per day at a computer or TV has the tendency to display psychological difficulties than those who does not. Moreover, imaging studies proven that addiction to internet and game can shrink the brain regions which is responsible for planning and executive functions, empathy, compassion, and may lead to impulsivity. This could be due to the dopamine centre (the neurotransmitter that causes us to “feel good”) in the brain is more sensitive and could contribute to the rush of playing video games to be more intense and addictive, which could have similar effect for those cravings for drugs and/ or gambling. However, how quickly or easily that our brain can “recover” from the impact of screen times is still unknown.

Have you ever thought that when you are sitting down spending more time on your devices or in front of the TV, you are actually sparing lesser time for activities that are good for your health and well-being? It is truly important to know what your screen time displacing and guide your children as well as your own self back to the track.

To boost your brain power, please limit your screen time.

By: Ms Vernice Si Toh - SOL Psychologist

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