March 8th, 2013 | Add a Comment
Today’s everyday life looks a little something like this: Check Facebook. Check Twitter. Check the news, your e-mail, your phone, whatever other accounts you have…okay, you’re all busy, I get it. But the extra 5 or 10 minutes it would take to slow down may be worth improving your mental health and sanity.
A new study has found a strong link between media multi-tasking—using more than one electronic device at once—and depression, as well as social anxiety. This is an especially scary finding, considering that media use among youth has increased 20 percent over the past decade, and media multi-tasking has increased by over 119 percent. If this study is to be taken at face value, there is a potentially debilitating amount of mental illnesses that could surface.
Dr. Becker and his colleagues at Michigan State University led this study, the first of its kind to find an association between media multi-tasking and self-reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, although a few studies have reported links between mental health issues and multimedia use.
In this study, 319 students participated, and after controls for personality traits and overall media use, the findings were astounding: there were 70 percent more depressive symptoms in the group with the highest level of media multi-tasking than in the group with the lowest multi-tasking, and 42 percent higher levels of social anxiety in the same respective groups.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that these are symptoms and not clinical diagnoses. There is also a degree of uncertainty whether media multi-tasking caused these symptoms, whether these symptoms prompted the excessive levels of multi-tasking, or whether there could be other reasons for the correlation.
As with any study, the causality question does complicate things a bit. Regardless of which bit causes what, this brings us to a point where we have to ask ourselves what we do about a potentially large problem. It is not as if we can cut these devices out of our lives, or turn around and move in an entirely different direction.
As with everything, the key to this problem is moderation. If an individual is suffering from depression or social anxiety, it is important that they receive the treatment that they need, whether that entails counseling or a mix of therapy and medications.
However, if it is the stimulation overload that is causing these symptoms, then perhaps cutting back on the use of these devices would produce a better outcome. In today’s world, no matter who you are or what you do, it is important to stay connected and accessible via social networking sites and cell phones. However, just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should take it to the extreme, because like any addiction, it could have harmful consequences.
It is equally as important to stay physically connected with people – to see them in person and to look into their eyes when they speak. It is important to stay connected with the world around us by taking walks, enjoying the scenery, and leaving our phones on silent. These things sound simple, but they’re more difficult to implement in a world that wants to do everything at once and relies so heavily on technology. However, it’s worth it when it comes to keeping yourself healthy and sane.
After all, what’s an extra 20 minutes compared to the rest of your life?
Written by Bre
A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.
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