COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – How often do you or your children check apps on a cell phone? How much time do you spend scrolling?
According to new data, the average person spends more than seven hours a day looking at a screen.
One local doctor is offering tips on the dangers of stress-inducing apps and why you might want to consider unplugging a bit in the new year.
As a psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and professor emeritus of psychiatry at the Ohio State University, Dr. Mary Fristad said the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to increase screen time when they couldn’t meet in person.
“If you are on your phone all the time, or constantly being interrupted from what you’re doing to be on you phone, it’s probably starting to impair your ability to sustain attention,” Fristad said.
A recent study by digital marketing agency High Visibility conducted analysis of app store reviews to determine which apps in 2021 make users the most stressed. The data revealed Snapchat to be the most stress-inducing, followed by Instagram.
“Be honest with yourself: Are there certain sites or certain things that you might be monitoring that bring you down?” Fristad said. “And if so, ask yourself, ‘Is it worth it to be on this?’”
The study also revealed Hulu, Spotify, and Netflix topped the chart as the most stressful streaming apps, but Fristad said screen time and apps can be helpful tools for entertainment or communication, as long as they are used in moderation.
“The people who have developed these apps absolutely know what they’re doing,” Fristad said. “They’ve developed them to be addictive, and they are, so we really need to use all of our best resources to combat that.”
She said it’s important to interact with people in-person, and adolescents, in particular, should be involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports, music, theatre, a part-time job, or volunteering.
“Anything that gets them out and about with other real human beings is the best way to inoculate yourself against what can be the negative effects of too much screen time,” Fristad said.
Fristad suggests you monitor how much time you’re spending online and take note how it’s affecting your mood and sleep.
“Physical health means getting enough sleep, means shutting off that screen 30-60 minutes before bedtime because we know that the blue light it emits can keep us awake,” she said.
Fristad said adults should be getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep and adolescents need 8-10 hours.
“We eat too much when we’re tired, our moods tend to be irritable and cranky, that makes us not fun to be around,” she said. “We don’t do as well in school or on the job.”
Fristad said if you’re worried you might be addicted to certain apps, try a phone detox: take an hour, put the phone away, and silence the ringer.
“And if it makes you kind of jittery and nervous and uncomfortable, maybe that’s a sign you should try for an hour and a half detox,” Fristad said.
Fristad said adolescents up to 18 years old can be the most vulnerable to screen time. She advises parents to follow age guidelines for certain apps and to “wait until 8,” meaning eighth grade before allowing children to be on social media apps. Or if you can, she said, it’s even better to wait until they’re in high school.