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Effects and risks
The advantages of cellphones, tablets and computers are many, but the use of screens can also have harmful consequences in all areas of life. Furthermore, young people are more at risk of harm linked to hyperconnectivity.
The effects of screens
Here is a quick overview of the pros and cons that screens and the Internet have on our well-being.
For the body
There are a multitude of websites, video games and apps that encourage us to move, do physical activity, and take care of our health.
Overuse of screens increases the risk of a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, lack of sleep, posture problems that can cause neck pain as well as headaches, vision problems and more.
For the mind
Several websites and apps promote mental health, notably by helping us better manage our time, develop our creativity, meditate, get rid of a bad habit, or even by offering online therapy services.
Knowledge on this subject is still limited, but some studies reveal that overuse of screens is associated with reduced concentration, memory and self-esteem, increased stress, anxiety and depression as well as development of an addiction.
For social life
Social media, forums, blogs, online educational content… All this fosters the development of identity and social skills, access to education, and exposure to different cultures.
Letting online life become more important than offline life can lead to isolation, a decrease in social skills, the deterioration of interpersonal relationships, and difficulties at school or at work.
Who is most at risk?
Children are more easily influenced than adults, and they are particularly vulnerable to online marketing techniques as well as to the various harmful effects of hyperconnectivity. Their brains are developing, so they can lack self-control, judgement and maturity when it comes to screen use.
Even though knowledge on this subject is still limited, some studies show associations between overuse of screens by children and negative impacts on affective, cognitive and motor development, control of emotions, and mental and social health.
Teens and young adults
Youth in this age group are experiencing several important transitions (e.g., end of school, leaving the family home, entering the job market, first romantic relationships, etc.). Moreover, they also often have a lot of free time. Since their brains continue to develop until the age of 25, it can be difficult for them to keep control in order to find a balance between their online and offline life.
Even though knowledge on this subject is still limited, some studies show that excessive screen use can have negative effects on learning, memory and brain development. In extreme cases, brain functions associated with attention, impulse control, judgement, problem solving, and decision-making could be affected. The overuse of screens and the Internet also increases the risks of triggering the cycle of addiction.
Beware of the term “cyber addiction”!
Teens can spend a lot of time on social media or playing video games without necessarily being cyberaddicted. To be able to recognize the signs of problematic use of screens by your child, read the article “When to worry about your teens screen use?“.