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Virtual fatigue: Why the government is looking at how the internet is affecting our mental health

Global online usage has rocketed since the beginning of the pandemic, but at what cost to our mental health? Joanna Whitehead looks at a new government inquiry established at finding out

Friday 11 December 2020 15:16 GMT
How much time do you spend online?
How much time do you spend online? (Getty Images)

The Covid-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated our reliance on digital technology. New research published in September revealed that global online consumption has more than doubled during 2020. Prior to the arrival of Covid-19, the average time a person spent online per day was just over three hours, but the study of over 10,000 people in five countries has found this number has increased to six hours and 59 minutes, a figure which includes phone, TV and other forms of digital media.

Next week, a House of Lords committee will consider evidence from two panels of witnesses, including members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society, into the impact of spending more time online on our mental health.

This includes the extent to which mental health services may be delivered digitally, what influence this may have on mental health outcomes, and the overall impact of people’s future mental health of spending more time online.

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