Screen time during Covid pandemic linked to depression

Increased screen time among young adults during the Covid-19 crisis correlated with a rise in pandemic-related mental distress, according to a research.

A survey led by researchers from the Saint James School of Medicine in Saint Vincent, Caribbeans, found that nearly half of participants exhibited mild to moderate depression, with more than 70 per cent ranging from mild to severe depression.

Seventy per cent of participants also experienced mild to severe anxiety, and slightly more than 30 per cent could potentially meet DSM-IV-TR criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The increase in time spent viewing entertainment on a screen both prior to and during the pandemic was associated with a boost in anxiety scores. Students scored higher than non-students in pandemic-related distress.

“This study highlights that the pandemic did not simply affect people physically, but emotionally and mentally, with various groups being impacted to a greater extent than others,” said Michelle Wiciak, researcher from the Saint James School of Medicine.

“It reiterates that there is an increased need for mental health support during disastrous times,” Wiciak added.

The research will be presented at the World Microbe Forum, taking place online from June 20 to 24.

The survey was based on 294 responses collected from participants ranging 18 to 28 years old.

Screen time use was not different between genders. Still, there were gender differences in average scores in depression, anxiety and distress from Covid-19.

“The study is unique in having evaluated mental health status as a function of screen time,” said Wiciak.

“Since the pandemic shifted work and education to online, we wanted to gain more insight into that transition’s impact. We did find unexpected results, potentially paving the way for future research and various protective factors, which can be vital in keeping a person healthy during tumultuous times,” added Wiciak.