Digital disconnection and what it means for mental health
Minimising the use of electronic devices during the summer holidays is fundamental for good emotional balance.
According to the latest studies, Spaniards spend an average of more than six hours a day surfing the internet and 80% spend almost two hours a day on social media. As Cinthya Molina, psychologist at SHA Wellness Clinic, tells us, “new technologies have changed the way we relate to each other. Immediacy and accessibility have created a mental map that also now dictates reality, that is, life outside social media”.
Electronic devices are neither inherently harmful nor beneficial. It all depends on how we use or abuse them. Because, like everything else in life, the secret is in the balance. Spending too much time on the internet or on social media is a constant overstimulation that has a very negative effect on our mental health. As the expert explains, “excessive use of new technologies reduces our contact with our surroundings, isolating us. And this lack of socialisation and affection can lead to anxiety, stress and emotional disorders. Moreover, it can generate a dependence that manifests itself in increased irritability, frustration and anger. In other words, it has the classic symptoms of withdrawal”.
It is therefore not surprising that, in recent years, but particularly during the lockdown for Covid, when the consumption of digital content reached historic highs, there has been a very significant increase in disorders associated with screens. These are known as technopathologies or 2.0 diseases. Cinthya explains the three most common ones:
–Nomophobia. This is a condition in which someone’s peace of mind and well-being depend on always having their mobile phone with them. Some 50% of users have this phobia and is aggravated when the mobile is forgotten at home, the battery runs out, the charger is not at hand or there is no coverage.
–FOMO. This stands for Fear Of Missing Out, that is, the fear of missing out on something that might be happening in someone’s social groups or social media. This causes great anxiety and distress at the thought of not being able to connect when they would like to.
–WhatsApp apnoea. This refers to the compulsive need to check your phone to see if someone has been in contact. People with this disorder constantly check their phone, even if they haven’t received any new messages, and re-read messages they have already received to see if the other person is online or why they haven’t replied. This creates stress, anxiety and an intense state of nervousness.
In short, if you feel a great sense of unease or nervousness when the internet goes down, WhatsApp stops working, you go somewhere where there is no coverage or your mobile phone runs out of battery, perhaps the time has come to disconnect from new technologies for a bit. Take advantage of the summer holidays to reconnect with yourself, with nature and with your family and friends. Your mental health will thank you for it.
To learn more about how new technologies affect your energy health, Click here