A Surplus of Screen Time

Photo by Rosie Harris.

According to CNN, teens spend an average of seven hours per day on screens as a source of entertainment, not including time spent for school. Before virtual learning, school was a place where students got a break from the screens. Now, school is the source of much of a student’s screen time. 

Junior Cristina Scolaro says, “I think I spend about six to eight hours [a day] on screens because of school and homework. It’s definitely increased [since the start of virtual learning].”

With virtual learning, students attend online classes from 7:25 am-2:15 pm. This means that excluding passing periods and lunch, students will receive 5 hours and 36 minutes of guaranteed screen time. Then, even if each teacher only assigned about 10-20 minutes of homework, that would add up to an additional hour or two of work each night, most likely done electronically.

Students who choose to be a part of the hybrid plan only have to be in calls with their instructor with this schedule 2 days a week, but for those who remain fully online, it is 4 days. However, even during the in-person days for hybrid students, they still are required to use a laptop in their classes. 

“I do go to in-person school part time and I use my computer in most of my classes except for my sixt hour percussion class,” Scolaro said.

English teacher Mrs. Bart says,“I’m guessing each student spends over 8 hours a day. Just being in school from 7:25 to 2:15 is almost 7 hours, and then many kids have homework. Add that to the fact that kids enjoy social media or video games or watching videos, etc. and kids could be online 12-15 hours a day. It depends on the student.”   

Teachers can relate to the current struggles of students. They now have to teach class, lesson plan, and grade all using technology. 

I think I spend about 12 hours a day on the computer or my phone,” Bart said.  

There seem to be mild physical tolls on students as a result of their amount of time spent in front of a screen.

Sophomore Luke Westing says, “Mainly just my eyes get a bit sore and [I am] sitting in the same seat for hours, but that’s about it. I have only noticed that some [of my peers] say they are more tired.”

Westing is not alone in this feeling. The blue light from devices is known to cause eye strain, especially when spending large periods of time looking at screens. The American Optometric Association states the most common symptoms of digital eye strain are headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, neck pain, and shoulder pain.  

I have heard kids complaining of headaches and of being more tired because of the extra screen time,” Bart said. “Personally, I feel like it is also much less motivating for students. It’s like suddenly expecting students to be self-paced learners, which many teenagers are not prepared for.”

Teachers are trying to make small improvements to their classes to tackle the issue of their students’ screen time. 

“As an English teacher, I can tell you that I’m not allowing my students to use e-readers instead of physical books because I don’t want them online even more than usual to get their reading done,” Bart said.

Students also have methods to reduce their screen time.

“I am in the after school plays, so that is great for me to get away and do other activities. So I would say just doing after school clubs and things like that [is a good way to get away from screens],” Westing said.