Is Excessive Screen Time Harmful?

Emma Childs, Features Editor

Viewing screens for long periods of time has become part of teens’ daily lives. Whether that be using a computer for school work or binge watching a Netflix show, on average, teens spend up to 6-8 viewing a screen. A healthy limit of screen time is two hours or less. 


Unfortunately, excessive screen time can cause a number of negative effects including: disrupted sleep and desynchronized body clock, obesity, depression and anxiety, sensory overload, and fractured attention. 


Disrupted Sleep and Desynchronized Body Clock: 

Blue light emitted from your electronic device can disrupt your brain’s sleep cycle and prevent a good night’s sleep. Blue light simulates sunlight, which leads to the suppression of melatonin levels. Just ten minutes of screen time can cause melatonin to be released several hours later than needed. This causes your body clock to be disrupted and can cause hormone imbalance and brain inflammation. 



Evidence suggests that excessive screen time on TV or video games can lead to overeating while viewing. 


Depression and Anxiety: 

Screen time spent on social media, video games, etc. can be just as addictive as alcohol or drugs. This addiction to screen time can lead to isolation, depression, and severe anxiety. Excessive screen time can also cause individuals to compare themselves to others’ unrealistic lives on social media. Spending a significant amount of time on these apps can cause people to have feelings of inadequacy and resentment.   


Sensory Overload and Fractured Attention: 

Modern entertainment platforms such as social media, streaming services, and video games are fast paced and attention grabbing. These activities release a significant amount of dopamine, which can affect one’s long term ability to concentrate on low dopamine tasks. 


Many of these negative effects can be avoided by monitoring and reducing screen time. There are several strategies that one can use to help reduce screen time. 


  1. Set aside time to unplug for a couple hours a day. Instead of spending time on electronic devices, you could take a walk, play a sport or board game, read a book, or hang out with friends.
  2. Keep bedrooms screen-free to reduce the temptation to get on an electronic device. This change will promote healthier sleeping habits.
  3. Set screen time limits for apps that tend to be overused.
  4. Keep dinner time screen free and talk with family or friends.
  5. Go outside to play with your dog, ride a bike, go on a hike, etc.


The purpose of this article is not to push screen time out of existence, but to make others aware of how screen time may be affecting them. Take a moment to really consider how much time you spend on a screen and how it has affected your life.