Welcome to our Youth Talk Blog, a section dedicated to youth lived-experiences with mental health and wellbeing, with weekly blog posts from diverse young people’s perspectives. This is a positive, fun and resourceful space, showcasing young people thriving and connecting with healthful activities, resources and support. This post has been written by Jess, our Community Education intern, who is a 22-year-old psychology student.
Technology is a major part of life today more than ever and is increasingly becoming more so; it has its wonderful benefits that make life for us all easier. Our jobs, how we make our food, how we receive information on the world, and how we travel are only a few of the things which would be made less simple and efficient without technology.
Checking on our devices intermittently through the day is quite common but spending an excessive amount of time on devices can have undesirable effects which we are not aware of most of the time, such as missing out on aspects of life and not being in the present. I have found myself guilty of holding my phone around with me far too often, and it is becoming a habit. This leads to me checking my phone and being distracted by it far more often than I would like to admit. Doing this can disrupt my train of thought and tasks or activities I may be doing at the time. Not to mention I can find myself on my phone when hanging out with friends which can be quite rude.
I have also found that spending an excessive amount of time watching television or Netflix on my laptop can make me feel sluggish or even give me feelings of nausea from looking at a screen for too long. Receiving all this information from devices can have an impact on your mood too. This can come from paying attention to the news and encouraging worrying or stressful thoughts.
It can also be common that people find using screen time as a great way to procrastinate. I myself have experienced this many times, such as putting off working on an assignment only to watch just one more episode of a show. People can use screen time as a mechanism of avoiding tasks at hand to complete, which adds significantly onto the overall screen time we take part in every day.
For many people, switching off devices cold turkey is not an effective and realistic way of staying off devices. Especially considering these devices are the main connections to our family, friends, schoolwork, and other commitments we may have. However, breaking the constant checking habit can still be manageable through removing devices from the constant flow of daily life, for example, when walking from one place to another or in moments of downtime when you would usually go on your phone or some device. Improved sleep can also be another benefit of reducing time on devices, due to the physiological effects of blue light, which can impact the brain production of melatonin (the sleep hormone) and delay sleep.
I try doing other things instead of going on a phone or watching television in my downtime, for example, journaling. This is a great way to process thoughts and let feelings out, I have found in my own experience noting down my thoughts and activities clears my mind. Exercising or going for a walk is also good to distract the mind and treat the body. As well as doing other creative activities, such as painting or drawing, making things to give one a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction can be hugely beneficial. Also, instead of watching a movie, it’s cool to spend time and engage with friends, doing fun activities without screens, like playing card or board games.
Another tip to help decrease your screen time is, ironically, getting an app. One called Space App is designed to help users understand and reduce their phone usage. Turning off notifications can also be another strategy which many of my friends use to avoid being on their phones often during the day, especially when they have a busy day of university or work to do.
As you can see, there are many ways that can help if you feel like you are too dependent on your devices or perhaps spend a bit more time on them than you would prefer. There are many benefits that could be gained from doing any of these small simple steps to become more present or in touch with your physical surroundings.