The effect of smartphones on mental health

Hold Me is a video installation that looks at intimacy within our use of digital technology. It’s estimated that we touch our phones around 200-300 times a day, indicating a close physical relationship with our devices, and the divide or boundary that the screen presents along with virtual aliases mean that many people turn to online spaces to reveal their deepest thoughts. Our smartphones take the place of therapists and through forums, social media, chat spaces, we reveal a side of ourselves (ironically, quite publicly) that we might feel uncomfortable revealing to our friends and family.

The installation looks at the relationship between reality and artifice, and how digital masks, near anonymity, and the fluidity of online identities allow us to perhaps be more honest and open about our mental health.

Specifically, Hold Me looks at how young people are using smartphones and experimenting with the presentation of their online selves to seek advice concerning social isolation, insecurity and emotional support. It also incorporates the recent trend of ‘fluffy slime’ videos and how recent research has found that teenagers are consuming these videos as a form of ‘microtherapy’ to relieve anxiety (see this article in Wired magazine and research from Dr Anita Deák, Psychology Professor at the University of Pécs, Hungary).

The on-screen character is dressed with a yellow emoji face, a radio antennae headband, and a necklace of found cassette tapes, film reels and mobile phones.

The script (anonymised) is researched from forums, chat spaces and Google searches.