On: Technology and Unhappiness

I recently read an article that said, “Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier — up to a point, new research shows” Which got me thinking. Sure, that jibes, in fact I would almost come to expect it. Some of my happiest moments are definitely not tied to my phone. For example, Christmas morning, I definitely am not on my phone. Hiking with my family in Acadia National Park, I only used my phone to capture photos. But times when I am glued to my phone? When I’m anxious, when I’m feeling introverted, when I’m bored, when I’m feeling particularly avoidant. (Now I’m not saying that’s the only time I use my phone, but bear with me here.)
Last night, I was feeling very anxious. I’m taking a class that stresses me out a lot because it really puts me out of my comfort zone. And when I’m feeling anxious I go on my phone to distract myself. I watch funny videos on YouTube, I scroll mindlessly through Tumblr reading funny memes or looking at gifsets of whatever fandom I’m interested in at the moment. It helps me feel better.
The article stated: “It also found that adolescents’ psychological well-being decreased the more hours a week they spent on screens, including the Internet, social media, texting, gaming, and video chats. The findings jibe with earlier studies linking frequent screen use and teenage depression and anxiety.”
Now my question is, this link here, is it perhaps reversed? Are teens who are already anxious and depressed on their phones more, or are phones themselves making the teens anxious and depressed? Because like I said before my phone and computer are frequently a way for me to escape, to avoid whatever is causing me distress. (Yes I know this is an unhealthy avoidance tactic and I would be better off exercising or meditating, I took Abnormal Psych, I know.) BUT, I’m just putting it out there, that when you read these articles, see these headlines, and immediately jump into the “AHH! Technology is bad! I need to throw away my phone and escape into the alps.” Maybe, it’s not the technology, but you.
I’ve been thinking about my dependence on my phone for an escape a lot lately, and while I know I can’t quit cold turkey, I do want to endeavor to rely less on my phone to distract me and try a more healthy alternative.
Food for thought.

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