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Does Screen Time Produce Mood Disturbances?

At any given moment in a public place, you can see people of all ages looking at their devices to check text messages, emails, stream shows, videos, or music, or scroll through social media. Teenagers on average spend 9 hours a day on digital media according to Common Sense Media. Although this time includes simply listening to music or the use of tablets or computers for homework, there is still concern as to how screen time actually affects teens and their disposition. The adolescent brain is much more sensitive to electronics that you may be aware of causing them to act out in ways that may be misconstrued as merely a mental health issue but is not. Television as gotten a bad rap for years on how kids brains have been affected with sitting and staring during passive screen time. Compulsive use of technology and the hyperarousal that stems from gaming, texting, posting on social media, and streaming videos has been revealed to do more harm than good.  What researchers and psychiatrists have found is that interactive screen time in teens provides a subjective overload and too much stimulation causing sleep, mood, and cognitive disorders.

Screen time produces stress response

Hyperarousal places restraint on the frontal lobe of the brain where mood is regulated and produces stress from the hormone cortisol. Irritability and displeasure are the direct result of overstimulation from hormones and brain chemistry getting out of balance with chronic use of screen time.

Screen time shortens attention span

The Department of Psychology College of Social and Behavioral Science deems that poor focus is what is behind the moody and disruptive behavior that teens may display. Screen time overloads a teen's sensory system and depletes their mental capacity with high visual content and input causing meltdowns and anger to become a normal part of how they cope.

Screen time impedes sleep

Humans need to sleep to heal and rejuvenate their bodies. The light which emits from a screen in the nighttime can confuse the brain by mimicking the daytime and preventing melatonin to be released for sleepiness. Screen time in the night can be instrumental in desynchronizing a teen's internal body clock causing disruption in the brain's ability to fall asleep. Teenagers need sleep to grow, heal, and renew the body each night or else explosive and aggressive behavior can ensue. Screen time has become a major concern for parents on whether they are making good decisions based on the amount of screen time that they allow their teens to view.  Since technology is here to stay and will only become much more versatile, looking into decreasing a teen's screen time will only help them to thrive in their life which digital media may be hampering.  

If you or an adolescent you know needs to get help for drug or alcohol abuse, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center can give you the guidance that you deserve. Establishing a strong network of family and community can reinforce practices for living substance free.

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