Is technology good or bad for mental health? This is a question that’s in everybody’s mind. Short answer: both. Keep reading below to find out more about the benefits and drawbacks of technology on mental health.
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, specialists noticed a massive increase in the time spent using technology. This is no surprise since the pandemic put the entire world in the biggest lockdown experiment.
People from around the world were forced to respect social distancing and lockdown restrictions. All social activities were put on pause for over a year now. And traveling was no longer an option. All these reasons made everyone get online for various purposes: to get entertainment, to shop, talk to their loved ones, work, study, or simply because of boredom.
Now, while the Internet first seemed to be the salvation for everything that COVID-19 disrupted from our lives, mental health experts are worried that the Internet is also leading to a mental health crisis. However, like always, technology has both benefits and drawbacks to our mental health.
This article explores both the ways technology helps us with our mental health and the ways it affects our mental wellbeing.
The benefits of technology on mental health
Everybody is very vocal about how technology is affecting our mental health. Indeed, many studies have shown increased depression and suicidal thoughts rates due to technology use, mainly social media networks. However, it’s wrong to say that it only has drawbacks.
Digital technology has actually contributed a lot to eliminate the stigma related to mental health. For example, it was the channel used by celebrities or other people that Internet users look up to for opening up about their struggles with mental health disorders. Besides that, it also opened up the way to a lot of information about mental health issues and treatment options.
Here are the benefits of digital technology on mental health:
Access to therapy
One of the most apparent benefits technology has on mental health is the fact that it provides everyone with access to therapy services.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, which caused a surge in mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, more and more people were interested in accessing therapy services. Technology created the opportunity for that. Not only that the Internet was used as a channel for patients to communicate with their therapists, but it also allowed people from around the world to get access to therapy.
There are a number of wellness smartphone apps that focus on helping users improve their mental health.
For example, there are meditation apps, yoga, or exercise apps. These are all activities that have been linked to improved mental health. Using these apps, people struggling with mental health issues like depression or anxiety get access to coping strategies in the comfort of their own homes.
Access to products
Another good thing technology did for people struggling with mental health is that it gave access to products that help with mental health issues. Today, all you have to do is to search for a particular product online, and you’ll definitely find dozens of sellers for what you need. Mental health products you can find online:
Books: You can find mental health-related books covering topics like anxiety, depression, living with a certain mental health disorder, personal development, and more.
Aromatherapy products: Aromatherapy is known to help relieve stress and anxiety. Online you can buy diffusers, inhalers, aromatic spritzers, bathing salts, and more.
Tea- Certain types of tea are known to help reduce stress and anxiety. You can find chamomile tea, peppermint tea, lavender, valerian, or lemon balm tea.
CBD products – CBD, a natural compound found in the hemp plant, has been associated by several studies with reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression. You can visit Pure Hemp Farms to find out more about different types of CBD products and how they can help with managing anxiety or depression.
Supplements- Many types of supplements are used for anxiety, including vitamin D, vitamin B complex, magnesium, omega-3m, valerian root, and many others. You can now find all of them online.
Access to communication
Online texting is nothing like face-to-face socialization. However, in a world that’s in lockdown and people are advised to avoid meeting with other people to prevent spreading the virus, technology is the last resort.
We all know how important communication and socialization with others is for our mental wellbeing, even if that happens online. In fact, a study has concluded that digital technology use may actually be helpful to teenagers struggling with anxiety and depression. Researchers explained that more time spent texting can result in reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression on the same day.
The drawbacks of technology on mental health
Using technology on a daily basis can also negatively impact our mental health in several ways. Various studies show that the use of technology can lead to the development of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or isolation.
Here are the drawbacks of technology on mental health:
Isolation and comparison
Social media networks and the Internet are meant to bring people together. But, sometimes, they can work the other way around, making users feel isolated.
Social media users may find it hard to distinguish real face-to-face connections from online socialization until the point when they start to feel really lonely.
Besides that, another negative effect social media can have on our mental health is the fact that we tend to compare ourselves with our virtual friends. Social media posts can be very deceiving over what’s actually honest about one’s life. So, it’s easy to believe that your virtual friends’ lives are perfect and happy, while yours may not be so easy.
Social media, streaming services, forums, blogs, video games, and pretty much everything online can become a huge distraction if you allow it to be. They can keep you up until late hours, distract you from your work or studies, or even from the real people in your life. All these can take make one’s wellbeing take a tool, especially when the individual becomes “disconnected” from the real world because of technology.
Using digital devices before going to bed has been linked to sleep problems because of the blue light emitted by the devices. Blue light affects the natural sleep-and wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm. And insomnia or other types of sleep problems have been linked with poorer mental wellbeing.