Screen Addiction

Two current trends dominate the discourse of how modern screen communication technologies interact with public health. One group of researchers and critics seek the adverse effects of screen addition (be it games, social media, internet shopping or TV binging) on mental and physical health. Another group, often in collaboration with technology and cultural producers, demonstrate a positive outlook in which the ever-modernizing screens aid communications towards sociological, psychological and physical health.

Screen addiction studies in teenagers and young adults provide consisted evidence of negative health and psychological adversities such as loss of sleep, personality disorder, comorbid emotional disorder, depression and obesity. They indicate that screen addiction is likely moderated life stressors such as familial instability, parental styles, socioeconomic status and work load.

Whereas screen addiction in younger generations may be a maladaptive response to stress, it may be beneficial to older adults. For instance, it has been shown that video games can improve multitasking skills or the visual attention after a short period of training. Personalization of computer-based cognitive training in older adults has produced positive outcomes in their cognitive well-being . Computer-assisted physical exercise (exergame) has also been shown to be safe and beneficial for older adults.
A systemic review of over 5400 studies of mental health apps on smart phones suggests promising potential for this mode of intervention in depression and anxiety disorders—although more rigorous scientific research is needed to reach conclusive results (Donker et al. 2013).

Although there is a general public awareness about the double-edged nature of the screen technologies, there is no comprehensive survey to demonstrate how individuals rate themselves in relation to these technologies. What are the spectra of their content or discontent? Who are at risk and overwhelmed with over-use, and who are the potential beneficiaries in awe of access and training? Majority of studies to date have focused on either end of the screen-usage spectrum, benefits or harms. These studies are done in focused groups, in terms of age or geographical locations, and therefore the spectrum of variation across age have not been fully explored. Importantly, such surveys in a Canadian context are not available yet.

Given the mosaic cultural composition of Canada, performing such surveys in the Canadian context provides an added advantage to explore the question of screen usage in a multicultural, multi-lingual, and also geographical context. The survey outcomes are likely to be as important for public health and education policy makers, as they are for the general population who seek answers to the impact of new media technologies on their mental and physical well being.

 

Screen Addiction study aims to

Conduct a generalized survey of the demographics and habits of screen users

Identify the ‘at risk’ and ‘assisted’ populations in relation to “screen technology” based on data pertaining to social engagement, lifestyle habits and physical and mental wellbeing.

Develop and validate a “screen dependency” questionnaire that incorporates variations in habits, modes and duration of screen usage. 

Screen Addiction - Infographic - Three technological Developments Define our Age: Broadband, Smartphones, and Social Media Networks