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#WorldMentalHealthDay: Here's how you can protect your mental health from modern technology

Technology can have a negative impact — behaviorally, emotionally and cognitively

Kaushani Banerjee 9 October 2017, 11:48 PM
The smartphones and social networks we’ve grown to love are increasingly linked to mental illness

The smartphones and social networks we’ve grown to love are increasingly linked to mental illness Image: Thinkstock

Navigating the Internet and looking after our mental health simultaneously can be a literal minefield full of pitfalls. But at the same time, our technology and the Internet are part and parcel of our daily lives, something that can't be avoided. Every now and then, we come across articles that tell us what terrible things are going on in the world or we come upon comment sections with scathing words that remind us how unpleasant the virtual world can be.

"Technology can have a negative impact — behaviorally, emotionally and cognitively. It is our personal responsibility to safeguard our brains and protect them hence from the detrimental effects of excess use," says Shefali Batra, psychiatrist and cognitive therapist from Mumbai.

We all have undergone the pressure to be perfect on social media, felt FOMO, dealt with nasty tweets from people. But how exactly should we be looking after our mental healt without going entirely offline, throwing our phones into the sea or living in the woods?

Here's how to spot the warning signs of ​technology affecting our mental health:

  • Low social skills
  • Poor real interpersonal communication​
  • Poor work or study motivation
  • Lower emotional intelligence and empathy
  • Poor conflict resolution
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety and depression
Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, the Internet can be an absolutely awful, thing  (Image: Thinkstock)

Talking about the problems of the youth's mental health, Dr Batra says,  "Mostly, parents of those youngsters approach me who see poor scholastic performance, depression and aggression in their children owing to social media and gaming addiction. Children and adolescents also suffer from low self esteem, low self confidence and the inability to maintain real-world relationships after they've spent ​a good amount of time with technology and on building virtual relationships through social media sites and applications. Games such as the Blue Whale challenge crossed its limits in trapping vulnerable teenagers, alienating them from their peers and family and leading them to commit gruesome acts like self-annihilation."

Often seeing pictures of your friends on a foreign vacation or an unfavourable comment on your picture can often trigger negative feelings. To combat these feelings, here's what you can do according to Dr Batra, "On an individual level, teenagers and young adults need to realise that the digital world is virtual; it is almost like an illusion. The friends you make on digital platforms are not real and neither are the enemies or negative comments on a Facebook profile or Instagram picture."

When negative feelings arise out of digital content take a step back and follow the below:

  • Switch off from your digital world: It's not real​
  • ​Know that ​people around you matter more than those on the World Wide Web
  • Speak to a friend on the phone
  • Meet a cousin or sibling or friend
  • Go for a walk on the beach
  • Watch the sunset
  • Do some charity
  • ​Play a sport
  • Talk to your parents

Tips for mental health

(Dr Shefali Batra is also the founder of MINDRAMES and co-founder of InnerHour)

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Instagram & Snapchat worst for children’s mental health: Study

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