Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

What is the Connection Between Screen Time and Mental Health?

Man laying in his bed staring at his phone screen as he scrolls.

What is the Connection Between Screen Time and Mental Health?

There’s a funny tweet circulating the internet that reads, “Another day of staring at the big screen while scrolling through my little screen so as to reward myself for staring at the medium screen all week.” It may sound a bit funny, but isn’t it true?

The average American spends about 6 hours and 59 minutes a day looking at a screen.1 That totals up to 49 hours per week (or two full days), 196 hours per month (over eight full days), or 2,458 hours per year (a whopping 106 entire days spent on a screen). Doesn’t that sound like a bit too much screen time?

It’s nearly impossible to eliminate all screens from your life. Most people use computers at work, and phones are useful for things like navigation and news. However, the majority of screen time consists of scrolling through social media, playing video games, or binge-watching television shows or movies.

Unfortunately, it seems that the wonders of smartphones might not be as wonderful as their inventors hoped. Studies show a serious connection between excessive screen time and poor mental health. As time spent on devices rises year after year, mental health struggles trend in the opposite direction.

Although you might not be able to quit using screens completely, once you learn about the effects of too much screen time, it may encourage you to find areas where you can cut back.

Screen Time and Mental Health

Some screen time is useful, but long periods on your phone, computer, or TV can do more harm than good. Studies suggest a poor relationship between screen time and mental health and that excessive time on phones, computers, or the TV correlates with:

  • Lower psychological well-being
  • Less curiosity
  • Lower self-control
  • More distractibility
  • More difficulty making friends
  • Less emotional stability
  • Inability to finish tasks

Other research suggests that people with screen time upwards of seven or more hours per day are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety, have been treated by a mental health professional, or have taken medication for a psychological or behavioral issue.2

How Much is Too Much Screen Time?

If you work at a desk job, eliminating screen time is essentially impossible. Your livelihood depends on your attachment to the computer, and you’re likely well-versed in your chosen field. What do you do after a long day of work at a desk, though? Do you head out for a walk or hike? Or do you head home and unwind with some scrolling through social media and your favorite show?

If you’re like most people, you probably fall into the second category. While there’s nothing wrong with connecting with friends on social media or watching a good movie, you should aim for a good balance of real-world interactions and screen time.

Something else to consider is that not all screen time is equal. “Doom scrolling” on social media is far more harmful than watching educational content on a video platform. While researchers can’t seem to agree on a line for problematic hours on a screen, a good guideline to start with is no more than 30 to 60 minutes of social media use per day.3

Another way to approach it is to aim for three to four screen-free hours per day. This could include going for a walk, spending time with friends, going to the gym, or reading a real book, magazine, or newspaper.

If you’re wondering whether you have too much screen time, ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Do you get enough sleep?
  2. Do you spend time socializing?
  3. Do you perform well at work?
  4. Do you have real-world hobbies you enjoy?
  5. Are you physically active?

If your screen time affects these aspects of your life, you may want to reconsider your relationship with them. And if you’re living with a notable mental health problem because of it, seeking treatment may be a good idea. Programs like those at Lifeskills South Florida can help you address your device use and work on the resulting mental health problems. To learn more about the treatment services we provide, call us at 954-953-1742 or submit an online contact form today.




  1. Comparitech. (2023). Screen Time Statistics: Average Screen Time in US.
  2. Preventive Medicine Reports. (2018). Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents.
  3. TIME. (2022). Experts Can’t Agree on How Much Screen Time Is Too Much for Adults.




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