Screen Addiction Symptoms and Signs

Jun 10, 2024

Screen addiction is when you’re constantly on your gadgets. It involves computers, laptops, tablets, televisions, and smartphones. You might have a hard time pulling yourself away from these electronic devices. 

Screen addiction could have negative consequences on your job, school, or social relationships. It includes other technological addictions, such as social media, video games, and pornography. 

Over time, it can cause emotional and physical disturbances, such as anxiety, depression, eye strain, muscle strain, and sleep problems. This behavioral addiction is on the rise due to the increased use of technological devices.

Smart gadgets release a stream of breaking news alerts, text messages, emails, and social media. It can give feelings of FOMO, which also means the “fear of missing out.” This stimuli also triggers the brain’s reward system, which leads to compulsive behavior and addiction. 

Symptoms of Screen Time or Video Game Addiction

Both video games and screen time can become an addiction. Unfortunately, avoiding screens altogether is hard, especially at work and school. 

Excessive screen time can also damage mental, physical, and social health. During this time, the brain goes into a state of hyperarousal. 

The reward center in the brain releases dopamine as a response to the pleasure you feel every time you play video games or scroll social media. Dopamine is so powerful that it maintains your interest. 

This makes it harder for you to break this habit. The more you look at your screen or play video games, the more dopamine is released. 

The symptoms of screen time or video game addiction are similar. Both can turn into an addiction if it ruins your mental health and interpersonal relationships. Common symptoms include:

  • Continuing screen time or video game use even if you hit rock bottom in your life

  • Canceling events and activities because you prefer screen time or video games 

  • Displaying anger, frustration, or irritability when you cut back or quit 

  • Lying to others about your screen time or video game use 

  • Spending money on smart gadgets and video games, even if you can’t afford it 

  • Increasing screen time or video game use to get more enjoyment out of it

Ongoing excessive use of screen time and video games changes the brain. You would need behavioral or mental health treatment to rewire your brain so you’re no longer addicted. 

How many hours of screen time is considered an addiction?

There’s not a specific amount of time that suggests you have an addiction. Mental health experts recommend limiting screen time to two hours or less daily. 

If you notice that you struggle to stop using screens altogether, you might have a problem. In this case, you should learn how screen time can damage your mind and body. 

Is Screen Time Damaging?

According to a study from Common Sense Media, teenagers spend seven hours and 22 minutes on their phones. That doesn’t include the television or computer. 

Too much screen time can wreak havoc on your mind and body. While online entertainment is fun, too much of it can be damaging. 

First, excessive screen use can damage your brain. It causes changes to your cortex, especially in teenagers. The cortex is the area of the brain that processes information. It develops during adolescence. 

Increased screen time can prevent its growth. Another study called Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) found that children who spend too much time on the phone have a thinner cortex than those who don’t spend as much time. 

In addition, too much scrolling and texting can ruin your mental health. Studies have shown that increased levels of screen use have been linked to depression. 

Other studies show it causes you to procrastinate and rely on screen time to avoid stress. You might be anxious without a phone.

Since excessive screen use can alter your brain development, it can cause you to tune out. You might find other activities boring. 

It also causes strain in the neck and back area. It also disrupts your sleep cycle and increases your risk of insomnia.

It causes you to stay up later to watch television, play video games, or check social media. When it gets dark, your body releases a chemical called melatonin. 

This helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Bright light from the screen makes it harder to produce melatonin, keeping you awake. 

Sleep is essential for both teens and adults. Getting too little sleep at night makes you susceptible to flu and colds. 

It also helps you concentrate and remember important details. When you’re asleep, your brain retains the information you attained during the day. That makes it easier to recall this information when the need calls for it. 

Computer vision syndrome is a result of excessive gadget use. Symptoms associated with CVS are blurred vision, dry eyes, eye strain, and headaches. The bright light and glare on the screen can cause these symptoms. 

Treatment involves taking breaks and proper alignment for computer use. If left untreated, it could lead to serious problems such as astigmatism or farsightedness. 

How Can Gaming Become an Addiction?

Video game addiction is another name for internet gaming disorder. While most people play video games, only a small part develop a video game addiction. 

This condition can occur on any device. Regardless of the origin, video game addiction is a behavioral addiction. 

It has symptoms similar to gambling addiction, in which the individual gets a rush from winning. That becomes their motivation for playing. 

There are still questions as to whether gaming can become an addiction. Critics claim there’s no monetary loss involved with video games. Any habit that consumes your daily life should be taken seriously. 

Finding Treatment

Treatment for screen time and video game addiction often includes a combination of psychotherapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes. Medication might also be prescribed to treat underlying mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. 

Lifestyle changes would include reducing screen time and finding activities that don’t include technology. Psychotherapy might involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family therapy, group therapy, or individual counseling. During these counseling sessions, you’ll address the issues rooted in trauma, and how it’s impacted your relationships. 

Screen Sanity, Screen Time Action Network, and Gaming Addicts Anonymous are just three examples of support groups that help with screen time or video game addiction. 

Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It takes several techniques to see which one works. 

You should also get treatment from a licensed mental health professional who has experience working with screen time and video game addiction. If you’re looking for help, it’s just a few clicks away on Birches Health

Sources:

Association between screen time and depression among US adults

Video games and screen addiction

Can Too Much Screen Time Harm You?

Computer vision syndrome

Video Game Addiction

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