Are we addicted to our gadgets? A Mansfield counsellor looks at the link between technology and mental health

Sales of obselete technology such as vinyl and old mobile phones have skyrocketed as people turn their backs on  technology to live a distraction-free life.

Thursday, 13th September 2018, 11:15 am
Updated Thursday, 13th September 2018, 11:22 am
Jason Hanson, a counsellor in Forest Town

If you have ever had to tell your youngsters they have spent too long on the tablet, or spoken to someone who will not look up from their smartphone, you may feel like we just can’t disconnect from our devices.

Technology addiction is a very real phenomenon – and it can have adverse effects on mental health.

People are on average online for 24 hours a week, twice as long as 10 years ago, with one in five of all adults spending as many as 40 hours a week on the web.

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Jason Hanson, a counsellor in Forest Town, believes technology is a great learning aid, but has its dangers and should be used responsibly.

He said: “There are usually a few factors contributing to mental health problems.

“Social media makes bullying and harassment easier – it’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and be abusive. There is also a dark side to the internet that doesn’t get talked about – I’ve heard of suicide pacts spreading across the dark web.

“There are forums where people can discuss their mental health problems, which is a good thing, but it can mean someone with a minor mental health problem interact with worse problems and it can escalate.”

Jason believes parents and schools should be eductating young people about the dangers of technology.

He said: “Technology has moved so fast even family dynamics have changed.

“We see children on phones from six years old and if it isn’t policed they could access something they shouldn’t, or even be groomed.

“If technology is used in an innaproppriate manner, the effects can be irreversable.”

The NSPCC advises parents to set-up online parenting controls, set boundaries and agree what’s appropriate for your child to access, and talk to them about what they see online, in order to protect children and teach them how to stay safe online.