Limiting screen time can improve your mental health 

Cartoon by Brianna Angel

By Mariyah Ramirez

The impact of social media on teens’ mental health has become a growing concern. Teens in the U.S. spend up to nine hours a day on screens, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Much of this time is spent on social media. Although some teens enjoy the attention they receive on social media, others struggle with body image and self-esteem issues. 

The American Psychological Association did a study on teenagers and found that they felt much better about themselves when they were disconnected from their phones. The teens in the study engaged in at least a 50 percent reduction of screen time and showed benefits in body esteem and happiness in general. 

The study indicates that limiting screen time is one easy way to help teens feel better about their appearance and their body image.

Many teens compare themselves to those they see on social media and seek to look or act like them. However, this is problematic because often the images we see on social media use Photoshop and filters to make these influencers look like they’re perfect. Social media is often not a depiction of reality.

Often, therefore, scrolling through images of celebrities, influencers, and even our peers can lead us to have feelings of inferiority. When people look perfect online, we often compare negatively, focusing on the elements of ourselves that are not perfect.

Cutting back on social media would definitely reduce those negative thoughts. There are so many benefits when you enjoy your life and aren’t on your phone 24/7. 

Here are some ideas that you could try:

Limit content that makes you feel bad 

Social media is filled with idealized images of bodies. Instagram and TikTok have filters that make people look slimmer and tanner with perfect complexions. Beyond that, influencers tend to sell things that will make people look like them. Whether it’s a pair of shorts or a waist trainer that made them skinny. It is important to remember that influencers are looking to make money.

“The algorithm is pushing body-centric content to you because that’s what sells’ ‘ Lexie Kite wrote (coauthor of “More Than A Body: Your Body is an Instrument, Not an Ornament”). 

It’s up to the users to take matters into their own hands and know when to continue scrolling or unfollow any accounts that make you uncomfortable.

Limit use and turn off notifications 

Start by tracking your time on social media and slowly set limits on your apps. Smartphones like the iphone allow you to track the time you’ve been on your phone and lock certain apps for a certain amount of time. You can also turn off notifications to resist the urge to check any social media accounts. It allows you to take more time for yourself and stop comparing yourself with any influencers.

Spend more time doing physical activities 

Spend time with your friends and family in real life. Instead of looking at their stories or being on FaceTime, make plans to do something together. Or, make sure you have time to do things for yourself. Whether that means going to the gym, playing sports, or getting your nails done, take time for yourself that truly focuses on you, not social media. Limiting screen time can help you focus more on other aspects of your life that can set you up better for the future. Just doing something fun can improve your mental health.