Does Internet Usage Affect Your Health?

Young Girl Using Smartphone Internet

You may have heard rumors about the possible dangers of excessive internet usage. However, many do not realize the level of severity surrounding these potential risks, or that both mental and physical health can be affected. It is important to be aware of the negative impact social media and excessive "screen time" can have on a person -- and if necessary, take action to alter you or your loved one's behavior.

Here’s why you should consider cutting back on the social media scrolling and internet browsing:

Mental Health Implications of Excessive Internet Usage

There are mixed reports examining the correlation between excessive internet usage and social anxiety. Those with social anxiety typically find it easier to communicate online, allowing them to gather their thoughts before responding. However, issues can sometimes develop when people cannot access the internet, such as unproductive thoughts and neglected relationships with significant others, friends and family. Individuals with social anxiety may be more prone to developing unhealthy relationships with their mobile devices and computers than people who do not suffer from anxiety, and the negative emotions associated with this condition tend to escalate with increased internet usage.

Excessive internet usage is especially influential in children and teenagers. Teens like to text at late hours, reducing the amount of sleep they get at night. This sleep deprivation can result in cognitive problems such as trouble focusing and memory deficiency.

Young kids and teens may also experience “Facebook depression”, cyber-bullying and other negative effects of social media. Studies have shown that increased Facebook usage is linked to greater feelings of social isolation and lowered life satisfaction for many teens and even adults. Researchers believe the comparison factor and envy associated with social media browsing are significant contributing factors to Facebook depression. When people spend many hours a day looking through friends’ profiles, it can trigger a sense of jealousy and self-dissatisfaction.

Physical Health Concerns

It’s not just in your head. There can be physiological issues that result from excessive internet usage, including:

  • Strained vision
  • Neck and back pain
  • Hearing loss
  • High blood pressure

Strained vision is only one of the conditions that can be due to computer vision syndrome. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), a significant number of patients complain about eye strain, as well as neck and back pain in association with using a computer or mobile device. Headaches, blurred vision, dry eye, and light sensitivity may be experienced from long hours in front of a computer screen.

Elevated blood pressure was seen in a study of teenagers spending over 14 hours per week online. While not all heavy internet users show this symptom, there is a potential correlation between high blood pressure and sitting still for hours on end.

Moderation of Internet Usage is Key

The internet and social media have many benefits, such as allowing us to stay in touch with friends and family and quick access to current events. However, it is imperative to your mental and physical well-being that you limit your time in front of mobile devices and Instagram feeds. Moderation (even 1-2 hours per day) of internet usage has been linked to increased happiness and overall better quality of life in many adolescents and adults.

For more information about caring for you or your child’s mental health, visit one of our locations!