Navigating the Double-Edged Sword: The Role of Technology in Exacerbating Mental Health Challenges

In the modern digital age, smartphones have become deeply intertwined with almost every aspect of our lives, including our mental health. While smartphones offer numerous benefits in terms of accessibility, early intervention, and personalized support, they also present a double-edged sword, capable of exacerbating existing mental health challenges. In this blog post, we will explore the complex role of smartphone use in contributing to the exacerbation of mental health issues, examining key factors and helpful suggestions.

1. Information Overload and Digital Stress

As of January 2024, there are 26.57 million people in Australia. Of this, 25.21 million people use the internet. That is 94.9% of the total population. Significantly, social media users makeup 20.80 million, or 78.3% (Datareportal, 2024). 

The constant barrage of information in the digital era can lead to digital information overload. University researchers, Shalini Misra and colleagues (2012) found that digital information overload could lead to increased stress and poorer health amongst university undergraduates.

2. Comparison Culture on Social Media and Mental Health

Social media platforms, in particular, can perpetuate unrealistic standards of beauty, success, and happiness. This could lead to unhelpful and unrealistic comparison of these social media standards to our own lives. Potentially resulting in the development of feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. A university-based researcher, Lea Reis (2022) studied lifestyle content on social media and depression. She found that social media can indirectly worsen depression as a result of an individuals’ negative emotions in reaction to the lifestyle content on social media. 

3. Sleep Disruption and Digital Overload

The pervasive use of smartphones, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns and cause sleep disturbance. Dr. A Shaji George (2023) suggested that an average individual may touch their phones 96 times a day which may be indicative of addiction. His research indicated that digital overload is linked to a loss of sleep. The learned habit of engaging with our phones may be related to the difficulty of putting it down when it is bedtime. 

4. Digital Overload and Avoidance

The addictive nature of technology, particularly social media and online gaming, can lead to excessive use and build a habit of using smartphones without thinking. It is a common experience to use our smartphones as a distraction. Many individuals also use their smartphones as a means of avoidance from real-life stressors and challenges. This may result in a lack of opportunity for individuals to reflect and contemplate their problems and process their feelings. Over time, this could lead to increased mental health stressors or an exacerbation of existing mental health challenges. 

Addressing the Challenges

To mitigate the negative impact of smartphone use on mental health, it is important to implement proactive strategies and interventions:

– Ensure to take breaks from smartphone use and engage in other important activities that foster reflection and align with your values 

– Be mindful of the purpose you use your smartphone and how it may be contributing to avoidance or distraction away from resolving an issue

– Smartphone use also allows accessibility to information and resources online and on social media. However there may be misinformation. It is important to speak to a professional regarding mental health issues to ensure you get yourself the best help. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with phone use or  a mental health issue, don’t suffer in silence. Book an appointment at the Centre for Clinical Psychology in Melbourne today by calling 03 9077 0122. Our team of experienced psychologists are here to help you overcome your challenges and improve your wellbeing.


Datareportal, (2024) Retrieved from,percent%20of%20the%20total%20population

George, A. George, S.H. & Baskar, T. (2023). The Death of Analog: Assessing the Impacts of Ubiquitous Mobile Technology. Partners Universal Innovative Research Publication, 1(2), 15–33.

Reis, L. (2023). Information Overload and Presented Lifestyle in Social Media: A Stress-Perspective on the Effects on Mental Health. In Proceedings of the 2022 Computers and People Research Conference (SIGMIS-CPR ’22). Association for Computing Machinery, 10(1), 1–9.

Misra, S., & Stokols, D. (2012). Psychological and Health Outcomes of Perceived Information Overload. Environment and Behavior, 44(6), 737-759.