Mental Health Issues Coincide with Media Consumption – Get Informed and Practice Common Sense!

We laugh and discuss how uncommon “common sense” has become.

Take a look at the below chart that shows the decline in happiness among U.S. adults. (from the World Happiness Report). Happiness was measured with the question, “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days—would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” with the response choices coded 1, 2, or 3.

Figure 5.1: General happiness, U.S. adults, General Social Survey, 1973-2016

An environment where it is difficult to grasp what is of value gives way to mental health issues. Such a situation produces anxiety; it produces fear. Media producers and consumers largely are not concerned with this effect.

Every Parent Should Be Aware!

The below chart from The World Happiness Report shows a dramatic decrease in Happiness (Z) Scores (the blue line) among 8th and 10th graders. This decrease in happiness coincides with significant increases in technology usage.

Figure 5.4: Time spent on the internet, sleeping more than 7 hours a night most nights, frequency of in-person social interaction across 7 activities, and general happiness, standardized (Z) scores, 8th and 10th graders, Monitoring the Future, 2006-2017

In a great article The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media, Jean M. Twenge writes:

Several credible explanations have been posited to explain the decline in happiness among adult Americans, including declines in social capital and social support (Sachs, 2017) and increases in obesity and substance abuse (Sachs, 2018). In this article, I suggest another, complementary explanation: that Americans are less happy due to fundamental shifts in how they spend their leisure time. I focus primarily on adolescents, since more thorough analyses on trends in time use have been performed for this age group. However, future analyses may find that similar trends also appear among adults.

Jean M. Twenge, The Sad State of Happiness in the United States and the Role of Digital Media

The chart below indicates how activities correlate with levels of general happiness among 8th and 10th graders. The nonphone activities (in purple) correlate with increases in happiness, and the phone activities (in green) and TV use negatively correlate with happiness.

Figure 5.5: Correlation between activities and general happiness, 8th and 10th graders, Monitoring the Future, 2013-2016 (controlled for race, gender, SES, and grade level)

The obsession and competition with click bait drivel in our society is coming at a great cost.

Most producers of media are singularly concerned with inducing the consumer to linger on a page or inside an application so that the consumer can be inundated with ads. This is sucking people away from sleep and in-person socialization.

The Wellness Institute for Economic Growth recommends putting healthy limits on media consumption and developing better awareness of the issues.

Studies have shown that limiting technology use to about ten minutes per platform per day can help.

Become aware, inform loved ones about these studies. Engage in activities with kids that will teach them how to function in the world away from what will tend to make them unhappy and unhealthy, both physically and mentally.

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