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Technology: Does it Help or Harm Our Mental Health?

We all know technology has an impact on our mental health, from proven links between high use of social media and symptoms of depression and anxiety. For some people. Being constantly connected causes psychological issues such as expectation of instant gratification, distraction, sleep issues and stress. Opinions are still divided as to if technology has a negative link to our mental health, and a definitive answer is needed before we take too many steps and – in WALL-E style- the technology controls us.

The big question here, is what if we could make tech work for us?

The neuro-response to technology

TikTok- the app we all love, with short videos being the main product from the app. From dances, to cooking videos, to songs trending and changing an artist’s life. TikTok has soared in popularity over the past 5 years. But did you know about TikTok brain? TikTok brain is a term coined by psychologists who use it to describe what the platform does to human cognition and overall mental functioning. There is evidence for the detrimental effects of the app on regular users, especially on the brain development of children and teens. The fast passed nature of TikTok has affected our attention span, with marketers suggesting to hook the user within 3 seconds or they are lost! TikTok is addictive by design, with the endless scroll feature and the algorithm constantly refined and tailored to us to keep us on the platform. In terms of psychology, TikTok uses random reinforcement. The endless video stream is addictive, as our brain is expecting to get a reward at any second. In terms of the reward- it’s a funny video causing a shot of dopamine- the ‘happy hormone’. However, dopamine spikes happening one after another is what makes TikTok like gambling- with gambling research showing that addiction gradually shrinks the human brain.

This MRI study from 2013 shows online game addition leads to structural atrophy in the frontal cortex, showing that visible atrophy takes place in children’s brains who use smartphones for more than 7 hours a day (the average screentime for teens is 8hrs and rising). TikTok cannot be to blame entirely, as all the so called ‘traditional’ social media platforms copying the addictive features of the micro video app to lure younger audiences in. some trends on TikTok recently even show how users are fed up with the app, with the trend of CoreCore having branches focusing on showing overconsumption, anti-capitalism and showing genuine isolation and anger at the extreme connected world. Linked to CoreCore- March 3rd has also been trending on TikTok- being marked as the day everyone deletes TikTok because of the feeling that their lives are being wasted scrolling on the app, linking back to mental health, users are getting involved with both CoreCore and March 3rd because they are aware of the negative impact TikTok is having on their mental health.

Technology and mental health, are there any positives?

Here are 5 ways that technology can help your mental health if you find yourself struggling. As whilst recognising TikTok and other social media is bad for your health, the real power lies in taking the technology and all the tools it offers and flipping it into something good:


5- the ability to do things virtually: seen very much during the COVID-19 crisis, the ability to connect with loved ones is aided by technology, as is doing activities such as a virtual quiz, and even doing things like cooking classes from your home with the chef instruction on the screen. Virtual activities can help you feel less alone whilst also helping to reduce anxiety and depressions.

3& 4- websites and apps: websites sauch as mind and the NHS site to name a few can provide immediate help for mental health issues or concerns, as well as this, there are apps that can help ground yourself through breathing exercises.

2- chat bots and voice assistants- voice assistants in our smart homes may be the most unexpected of therapists, both Alexa and google home have Reponses for if you feel lonely. Alexa will give hints and tips (go for a walk, talk to a friend) where google tells you it’s there for you.

1- e therapy- one amazing thing about the internet is how accessible it makes therapy. And, how it helps in reducing the stigma around mental health issues. E-Therapy offers a convenient option to users as its accessible to anyone with access to the internet, and fits around life, also enabling the 8user to be in a safe place when the meeting happens.

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