IT isn’t rocket science to work out that spending too much time online could have a negative impact on your mental health.

There have been many cases of people suffering anxiety, depression and addiction because of not being able to cope with the darker side of social media.

We have all seen families sitting at a restaurant table with everyone on their mobile, not talking to each other, but immersed instead in the digital realm. Children are being given mobiles at a younger and younger age and the last thing they use them for is to make a phone call — it’s all about messaging and mainly social media.

I’m the first to admit that I am absolutely dependent on my mobile — I’d be lost without it. Just a few years ago I could never have imagined experiencing that horrible feeling when you realise you’ve left your phone somewhere or it’s almost out of battery life and you’ve no charger, but I do.

As phones have become smarter, WiFi better and the number of apps increased, your mobile has become an indispensable part of everyday life. Generally, this is great — being so well connected has many advantages and gives much more flexibility at work and in your leisure time.

But too much time spent on your device — tablet, pc or phone — is unhealthy.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, University of Bolton staff and students got a much deeper insight into the potential negative impact of too much time spent on your mobile and specifically social media. Dr Khurram Sadiq is a consultant psychiatrist in Greater Manchester and during a presentation he expressed his concern about the impact that social media and excessive screen time has on all ages, but, most worryingly, on young people.

The American Paediatric Society recommends that children under the age of two should have no screen time at all and it should be massively limited up to the age of five, as this is the time when our brains are developing the most.

Apparently for every hour a child spends staring at a screen, they learn six-seven fewer words. Dr Sadiq says there is a generation of children that are growing up with major language deficiencies and developmental skills because they have spent too much time glued to a screen.

Children need care, love and affection and very often they simply are not getting this from their electronic device.

He believes that raising that awareness and telling people about the risk to your mental health if you are not careful would be a huge step forward and that the dangers need to be explained in schools, universities and the NHS should be involved in campaigning.

He suggests downloading an app called ‘Moment’, which tracks your device usage. It is incredible to think that the average user checks their phone more than 200 times every day and swipes the screen 4,000 times. Give it a go – you might be surprised at what numbers you clock up. Hopefully, it will give you the motivation not to be as much of a slave to your mobile in the future.