Mental health and screening time in lockdown

Yes, lockdown was bad for mental health but, If national lockdowns hadn’t been implemented, many more people would have been infected with the virus – which would mean many more people living with the mental health consequences of the disease.

These can be difficult times for all of us as we hear about spread of COVID-19 from all
over the world, through television, social media, newspapers, family and friends and other
sources. The most common emotion faced by all is Fear. It makes us anxious, panicky and can
even possibly make us think, say or do things that we might not consider appropriate under
normal circumstances.

Owing to several days of isolation and confinement in houses due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, many are increasingly addicted to long screen time. Apart from spending time on mobile phone or laptops for office work or attending virtual classes, experts believe, people are becoming habituated to spending more time on screen either browsing random things, playing games or watching videos on OTT platforms.

Dr Balhara said that if the screen time is increased because of education or work-related issues, it does not impact the mental well-being but if there is increase in engagement with sedentary screen, which means watching videos, reading news, just looking at social media and responding to it, then the mental well-being goes down. “Excessive screen time weakens the brain’s ability to process information and control thoughts. According to a new research led by investigators at the Saint James School of Medicine, an increase in screen time among young adults during covid 19 pandemic can be correlated with a rise in pandemic-related distress.

Anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances and irritability can be attributed to increased screen time. In addition, isolation and lower threshold of patience are other behavioural changes noted among people,” stated Dr Sandeep Vohra

What is the ideal duration to spend on screen?

  • For professional use, regular interval breaks of 15-20 mins
  • Non-professional use should not be more than 2-3 hours per day

What complications can Arise with excessive use of mobile phones?

  • Headaches, several eye problems, muscle aches, decreased attention, shortness of temper, sleep disorders and depression. Long-term effects of increased screen time can include neurological problems

How to deal with such complications?

  • Planning a schedule for screen time as well as physical activities separately
  • Ensuring that the overhead lighting is not very bright, to avoid any glare on the screen harming the eyes
  • Ensure to take breaks every 15-20 minutes
  • Keep the screen 20 to 24 inches from your eye level and adjust the display settings of your device to reduce eye strain and fatigue

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