‘Shocking’ truths revealed with Screen Time

Constant phone use is high among young people.

By ISABELLA VOTSIS

Phone users might be shocked to learn how much time they spend interacting with a phone screen, a mental health professional warns.

Apple’s newest iOS 12 feature Screen Time can help people track their screen use and allows users to self-enable blocks on their apps for explicit times of day to try to minimise distractions.

Mental health expert and psychotherapist Eva Deligiannis said Screen Time could be the answer many people were searching for to monitor technology use.

“Checking social media or just using our phone constantly is a common way of avoid what is difficult in our lives or just avoiding stuff we need to get done in our day. Having a tool to help monitor usage is helpful,” Ms Deligiannis said.

“Setting up these new tools and just letting them run on a normal day, would I imagine be a very insightful – and possibly shocking – way to see how much time goes into being tied to our phones.”

Statistics from comScore’s 2017 report indicate that on average the general population use their smart devices for more than four hours a day, with the 18-24-year-old demographic using their devices the most.

Ms Deligiannis thinks that this statistic could be an indicator of why mental health is so poor for this demographic. Mindframe statistics show this group has the highest rate of mental illness, with 26 per cent likely to be affected at some stage. 

“Being saturated with images all the time via social media, in particular Instagram, creates only a one-way lens of what people are showing. If you spend too much [time] being consumed in social media that promotes these ideas, then it creates low self-esteem, depression and other mental [health] issues,”  she said.

“Having a colleague/friend help you set new limits would be a great way of creating new habits. Using any form of technology at night (which is common for younger people) creates major problems with regulating sleep and getting enough sleep.”

Given the evidence of mental health implications from excessive device usage, questions have been raised about these impacts on online business owners who also have to balance personal time online.

Creator of social media account: @blingedoutlemons. Image by Isabella Votsis.

Social media influencer Dil Kaur – also known as @blingedoutlemons – said the mental health impacts of social media could actually be more positive than negative.

“[Uploading on YouTube] played a really important part in my mental health journey … social media in general kind of provided me [with] an outlet to find people like myself,” Ms Kaur said.

Despite the good that has come from her social media presence, Ms Kaur  admitted it could be tricky to separate work from free time online, and often spent upwards of six hours on her devices daily.

“I’m online all the time … everyone consumes media differently, everyone uses technology differently,” she said.

Only time will indicate whether this feature really is the answer to our technology usage woes, but for online business owners and personalities Ms Kaur said the “distinction [of time spent] is really important”.

“I don’t think it’s Apple’s job to come up with tools like that, it’s cool [though] that they did,” she said.