In our fast pace lives people are reporting a feeling of never being free from work and social engagements. We as a whole spend more and more time catching up at work and home. Are the demands of work and our social schedule creating poor mental health? Are we spending too much time online? Is it leading us to over stress, sleeping disorders and depression?
Spending more time online then off can be damaging to our health, especially those who are plugged into Facebook. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg found when a study of 4100 Swedish men and woman in a year worth of studies, ages ranging from 20 to 24 that those who were plugged in online especially Facebook suffered physically and mentally. In this study it is shown that there is a link to more online time and mental health issues, sleeping disorders and stress of life in general. It showed that more people feel like they are never free. As well as reporting feelings of guilt over not returning a phone or message right away.
Lead author Sara Thomee said there was a 'central link' between computers and mental disorders. She said: 'High quantitative use was a central link between computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and depression, described by the young adults. 'It was easy to spend more time than planned at the computer (e.g., working, gaming, or chatting), and this tended to lead to time pressure, neglect of other activities and personal needs (such as social interaction, sleep, physical activity), as well as bad ergonomics, and mental overload.'
The study also found a correlation between stress and always being available on the phone, especially regarding the burden of guilt for not replying to messages. Thomee added: 'Demands for availability originated not only from work and the social network, but also from the individual’s own ambitions or desires."
Even people who played video games online faced a greater risk of suffering from depression, with Thomee saying: 'Daily computer gaming for 1–2 hours meant an increased risk for symptoms of depression in the women. 'Often using the computer late at night (and consequently losing sleep) was a prospective risk factor for stress and sleep disturbances, including reduced performance, in both sexes.'
The team goes on to said that people need to set limits on the time they spend in front of a screen or phone, and limit demands on their availability to avoid mental disorders.
Here are some specific statics of the study.
• Heavy cell phone use showed an increase in sleep disorders in men and an increase in depressive symptoms in both men and women. Those constantly accessible via cell phones were the most likely to report mental health issues.
• Men who use computers intensively were more likely to develop sleeping problems.
Regular, late night computer use was associated with sleep disorders, stress and depressive symptoms in both men and women.
• Frequently using a computer without breaks further increases the risk of stress, sleeping problems and depressive symptom. A combination of both heavy computer use and heavy mobile use makes the associations even stronger.
Is there a growing public health hazard not being addressed on the use of technologies?
For instance the light from TV and computer screens as well at smart phones has been shown to affect melatonin production which throws off our circadian rhythms. Interrupting or preventing deep and restorative sleep. Should technology companies warn their users of the potential dangers of over use of electronics?
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