Whether it be class time on Teams, evenings with Netflix, or mindless TikTok scrolling, one thing is for sure: spending hours glued to a screen is the new normal. The pandemic has brought with it a shift to a largely digital lifestyle, raising concerns about screen time management and possible harmful effects of screen time.
Freshman Matteo Puccini has seen about an eight hour increase in his screen time since the pandemic began, and he is not alone.
“School and homework is online, which already takes up a lot of time. Most of my free time is spent on my computer too. I go on Discord and play games like Valorant for a lot of my day.” Puccini said.
Parents, who have traditionally seen devices as the enemy, are especially concerned about their children’s increasingly close relationship with technology.
“I am not really concerned about my screen time but my parents definitely are,” Puccini said. “My parents are the ones who always talk about how electronics are bad for your eyes and your brain. We are a generation that grew up with technology, so I guess we have a blindspot.”
Senior Theophane Polydoros has experienced the demotivation that comes hand in hand with increased screen time.
“Too much screen time leads people to be more exhausted throughout the day and, for lack of a better word, lazy,” Polydoros said. “The more time you spend on a screen, the more likely you’ll want to stay attached to that screen; there’s an addictive nature to devices.”
According to eye doctors, there have been pandemic-related increases in what they call ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’, a series of vision-related problems associated with excessive device usage. Polydoros is not taking that chance.
“I got blue light blocking glasses because I knew that I was going to spend a lot of time on screens because of COVID,” Polydoros said. “They are supposed to protect your eyes from blue light from screens; plus, they are not that expensive.”
Eye strain isn’t the only problem that has arisen with prolonged screen time. Many people, including Puccini, are guilty of adopting highly sedentary behaviors.
“My lifestyle is not very exercise-based,” Puccini said. “I basically only go outside when my parents force me to, or to play basketball.”
Polydoros stresses the importance of taking breaks from the screen.
“Nowadays it’s impossible to go even a day without looking at a screen because everything is online in some way. I still think it is important to take breaks; I go outside and spend time reading books that I enjoy to take my eyes and mind off the screen,” Polydoros said.
Though excess screen time undoubtedly has its negative effects, screens have proven themselves very useful during such a time. Senior Kylie Greyson feels that devices are still necessary for communication and maintaining connections.
“Even though obviously it isn’t the same through a screen, people still need to keep in contact with each other; so many friendships would be lost if we didn’t have a way to still keep up with our friends,” Greyson said. “As hard as the situation is, at least we have some form of communication. If you think about it, It’s much worse to imagine a pandemic without devices than with one with them.”