A relationship between phone usage and mental health

Ashtyn Harter, Reporter

TRIGGER WARNING: Mentions of self-harm and suicide. 


Even though cell phones can be incredibly useful, they can also have negative effects on one’s mental health. High phone activity can cause sleep issues, anxiety, migraines, and depression. It’s not just the phone itself that is the issue: Social media also plays a major role in teens’ mental health. 

Psych Guides defines cell phone addiction as “… a behavioral addiction thought to be similar to that of an Internet, gambling, shopping, or video game addiction and leads to severe impairment or distress in one’s life.” According to a King University article, some symptoms of cell phone addiction are: reaching for a phone first thing in the morning, using cell phones when bored, becoming anxious or agitated when the cell phone is out of sight, and inability to cut back on cell phone usage. 

Teens in the United States spend more than seven hours a day on social media, not including their screen time for school and homework, reports CNN. Many studies have found links between social media usage and increased risk of loneliness, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. Negative experiences one can experience due to social media are isolation, fear of missing out, self-absorption, feelings of inadequacy, cyberbullying, and feelings of depression and anxiety, according to Helpguide

Using a cell phone before bed has been shown to be harmful to one’s overall health. Phones produce blue light, which boosts awareness, cognitive functions, helps memory and elevates mood according to UCDavisHealth. Blue light can cause eye strain, damage retinal cells, cause eye damage, and also affects sleep. The light constraints the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls one’s wake-sleep cycle. Being on cell phones at night also increases one’s alertness at night and compromises it the next morning, says an SCL Health article. To combat this, many cellphones and other devices have a screen mode that produces less blue light for users that will inevitably use their devices during the late hours of the night. 

 Keeping in touch is also extremely important, which has been made easier within our society thanks to social media. Although interacting face-to-face is very limited when using social media an extensive amount, it is still really important. When communicating face-to-face, it is easier to understand body language, avoid misunderstandings, get honest feedback, and really showcase one’s personality, lists a Semgeeks article. 

It is important to look after one’s mental health and making simple changes can help. Talking about your feelings, staying active, eating and drinking healthy, and asking for help are some of the ways to improve mental health according to the Mental Health Foundation. 

Phones are a part of our day-to-day lives. They affect mental health, social interaction, and they can affect sleep. It is important to put the phone down every once in a while to help with the possible negative effects that phones can have.