Feeling Fine with Less Screen Time

Question: Does the amount of time I spend on my phone affect my general mood at the end of the day?

In order to answer this question I used my tracked my screen time usage on my phone through the tool in settings and tweaked the data it output in order to make it more informative for me. For example, the program initially classified Youtube as entertainment, but I often use it for studying by watching how-to videos, so I made sure to correct for that in my data when I recorded it every night. Then, right before bed I recorded my overall mood, trying to look at the day and how I felt as a whole. While I recorded short phrases in my notebook every night such as “feeling content, had a decent day,” I found it easier to convey this information in my infographic as simply a smiling, straight, or frowning face.

When analyzing the data that I collected I noticed that total screen time didn’t directly predict my general mood that day. For example, the first Friday and Saturday in the infographic had a similar total screen time, yet on Friday I felt sad and on Saturday I felt happy. On closer analysis I noted that I had spent significantly less time on social media on Saturday than I did on Friday. After noticing this pattern I looked across all my data and noted that of the five days with my lowest screen time spent on social media, I recorded feeling happy for four of those days and feeling neutral for one of them. Furthermore, of the four days with my highest time spent on social media apps, I recorded feeling sad on three of the days and neutral on one of them. This trend leads me to conclude, as one might have already suspected, that extended usage of social media leads to a general decline in mood.

I was somewhat surprised that there was not also an overall correlation between screen time and mood, but when I think more about it, it makes sense that there is not because my phone can be used for both helpful and harmful purposes. One flaw in my infographic is that while I think dividing my mood into good, bad, or neutral helped simplify my conceptual data, it also ignored the nuance of emotional health. If I were to do this again I would also track my mood in a quantitative method such as how many times I felt sad or I laughed, so that I would have more concrete data to back up my assertions.

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