The pandemic and distance learning has brought many challenges for students, and some concerns as well regarding the amount of time students are spending on electronic devices. Some health experts and parents are currently voicing their concerns on one of the negative impacts of distance learning: excessive screen time.
Approximately 93.2% of students at Leigh High School reported that their daily average screen time has increased since the beginning of Distance Learning. Although reported screen times vary between students, most students spend anywhere between six to ten hours on their electronic devices every day, and some have even reported spending more than fifteen hours. 54.9% of students also reported that they felt more tired than usual, which affected their ability to concentrate in class. In a survey conducted, a student stated that, “If you’re up late doing homework, you can’t sleep. Since there is so much screen time, and not enough time to walk around, your body doesn’t get enough exercise. Exercising (at least for me) makes me tired, and makes you sore, so I always sleep better when I exercise. But with online learning, I can’t do that as much.” On the other hand, another student said that, “I don’t think it really affected my ability to concentrate in class and sleep. I’m sure it probably did, but I don’t notice any change. Mostly, due to the fact that I’ve been having a ton of screen time for the past year, and I’m used to it.”
Too much screen time has many effects, especially for students. One most common side effect is the inability to sleep because of blue light emitted from electronic devices interfering with the production of sleep hormones. This in turn affects a student’s ability to concentrate in class and retain the material. Another physical effect of excessive screen time is strain on the eyes and body. Constant exposure to screens can cause long-term effects, such as blurred vision,retina damage, and incorrect posture, resulting in pain in the shoulders and neck. Additionally, spending too much time online will prevent a student from having human interactions, and can have effects on self-esteem. In a world where most people rely on technology for instant entertainment, social media and electronic device addiction is becoming more and more prominent. Essentially, consuming information found on social media in a relaxed state triggers dopamine, a chemical associated with happiness and pleasure, to be released- causing addiction. Using electronic devices is inevitable, however, there are ways to cut down on screen time to maintain a healthy balance.
A method to help combat excessive screen time is to take frequent breaks and engaging in physical activity. This will provide alternatives for using a device and maintain good health and happiness. Setting screen time limits on electronic devices, such as phones, tablets, and iPads, are also helpful to understand how much time is actually being spent on electronics. Picking up a new hobby that does not involve a screen can also be beneficial. Additionally, it is also important to spend time with family and pets during these unprecedented times.
Although using electronic devices is inevitable during distance learning, it’s important to understand the effects of excessive screen time and learn about some of the alternatives.