I sometimes describe myself as an email addict. I don’t mean to be flip about it… I feel my problem with email is very real and hard to control. I can spend hours at a time emailing, replying and waiting for emails, and my anxiety level rises when I feel like people are ignoring me over email.

Other people seem to be genuinely hooked on social media sites like Facebook  (a popular social networking site) and Second Life( a “virtual world” site) . The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a study called The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families which suggests a connection between the use of some of these sites and depression among young people.

I control my own email usage by not logging on first thing in the morning when I get up and shutting my computer down at night before I am ready to go to sleep, so I have some time to wind down.  When I am doing other activities on the computer, such as writing or bookkeeping, I try to resist the temptation to check my email every few minutes, and sometimes require that I finish a task before I check my email. I also make sure I take breaks from the computer altogether, to go for a walk, meet a friend for tea, run errands or eat lunch.

When I spend too much time on the computer, or other electronic gadgets, I get a sensation similar to when I’ve had too much sun - a feeling of warmth and overexposure - as well as a feeling of being  trapped, like I’m on a hamster wheel. That’s when I shut off the computer and turn off the TV. I stretch, go outside and just generally stay away from electronic stimuli.

I can relate to a generation of kids that areplugged in most of the time. It’s easy to forget the pleasures of a game of tag or street hockey, or just being in nature, when we can so easily and instantly connect with people and information in the online world.  But it helps to remind ourselves that our bodies, minds and spirits require more than screen time to be healthy and happy.

About Anna Quon

Anna is an accomplished freelance/creative writer and writing workshop facilitator. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  She is passionate about many things, especially writing. It is through her writing, and her volunteer work with community organizations, that Anna honours the lives of people who, like her, are living with mental illness.

In 2008, Anna received the Inspiring Lives Award from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. In 2009, Anna published her first novel titled Migration Songs which was short listed for the Dartmouth Book Award.

Visit Anna's website.