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Do your work responsibilities and recreational choices involve a lot of computer use? Are you in the habit of updating social media through the day? Are you finding it weirdly difficult to concentrate on this paragraph?

If the answer to all three questions was in the affirmative, this might not be a coincidence.

A number of studies from around the world this year have found a disturbing link between computer use by adults and a range of mental disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), aggression and anxiety.

The research adds to previous findings showing a correlation between some forms of mental illness and screen time, but one critical aspect remains unknown. Which came first: the computer or the health issue?

So far, no one can say for sure. Computer use might cause damage to mental health. On the other hand, people with damaged mental health might be drawn to computer use.

And it’s a question with massive implications. As more and more of everyday life moves online – including mundanities such as shopping, form-filling, communication and, ironically enough, mental health treatments – any potential role for screen time in causing or exacerbating psychiatric illness is of central importance.

– Andrew Masterson

Read more: Do screens make psychotic adults?