Can't tear yourself away from the computer? Too much time online can lead to stress, sleeping disorders and depression
By Eddie Wrenn
If you find yourself constantly logging on to Facebook or browsing for hours at time, you may be setting yourself up for poor mental health.
Researchers at the University of Gothenburg found that those who constantly use a computer or their mobile phone can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression.
The team studied the habits of more than 4,100 Swedish men and women, aged between 20 and 24, over the course of a year to reach this conclusion.
Lead author Sara Thomee said there was a 'central link' between computers and mental disorders.
She said: 'High quantitative use was a central link between computer use and stress, sleep disturbances, and depression,
'It was easy to spend more time than planned at the computer (e.g., working, gaming, or chatting), and this tended to lead to time pressure, neglect of other activities and personal needs (such as social interaction, sleep, physical activity), as well as bad ergonomics, and mental overload.'
The study also found a correlation between stress and always being available on the phone, especially regarding the burden of guilt for not replying to messages.
Thomee added: 'Demands for availability originated not only from work and the social network, but also from the individual’s own ambitions or desires.
'LIKE' FACEBOOK TOO MUCH?
The average user spends 75 minutes per day on Facebook
The average user logs on to Facebook 6.1 times per day
70% log in every time they start their computer or web reader
26% feel ill at ease if they do not get to log in regularly
Women spend on average 81 minutes per day on Facebook
Men spend on average 64 minutes per day on Facebook
'This resulted in disturbances when busy or resting, the feeling of never being free, and difficulties separating work and private life
'Unreturned calls or messages led to overload and feelings of guilt.'
Even people who played video games online faced a greater risk of suffering from depression, with Thomee saying: 'Daily computer gaming for 1–2 hours meant an increased risk for symptoms of depression in the women.
'Often using the computer late at 48 night (and consequently losing sleep) was a prospective risk factor for stress and sleep disturbances, including reduced performance, in both sexes.'
The team said people need to set limits on the time they spend in front of a screen or phone, and limit demands on their availability to avoid mental disorders.