As students find themselves with more free time due to social distancing, some students have seen an increase in the amount of time they spend in front of a screen.
While being inside might encourage some students to take up arts and crafts or indulge in a form of exercise, some students are using this newfound free time to spend more time on various apps on their phones in addition to the hours of online classes.
Dr. Mary Ann Covey, Director of Counseling and Psychological Services, said while screen time has a tendency to be demonized, sometimes increased screen time can be a positive thing.
“I think it is really easy to scrutinize screen time,” Covey said. “However, if you are getting tutorial help through different apps or using apps to connect with others, seeing an increase in screen time here is not a bad thing.”
When looking at your screen time at the end of the week, Covey said rather than lumping all the time spent on apps together, break down the time spent on the apps individually and see what is helping and hurting you.
“Always ask the question, ‘Do these apps help me or hurt me?’” Covey said. “‘Am I on screen time for fun? Is it bringing me joy and happiness?’ Or, is screen time hurting you in a negative way? Always be monitoring how screen time makes you feel.”
Chemical engineering junior Michaela Grayson said while social distancing, her increased screen time has brought her happiness because it has allowed her to continue interacting with others.
“With everyone being spread out and not being able to be together, my increased screen time hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing since I am trying to stay connected as much as possible,” Grayson said. “I’m still getting school assignments and other activities that I like to do done, so I’m not too bothered by this increase.”
With her summer internship nearing, Grayson said her screen time is likely to decrease soon anyway.
“I have a full-time internship coming up this summer, so I definitely won’t be on my phone as much,” Grayson said. “This job will allow for a nice change of pace and allow me to take a break from being on my phone so much.”
Since quarantine has started, psychology junior Ali Richter said she has seen an extra hour added onto her weekly screen time. While she normally believes that this increase in screen time is a bad thing, she is more neutral on the topic due to the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus.
“I usually try to keep my screen time down,” Richter said. “But with the coronavirus, and the only way to stay connected is virtually, I am not too concerned about my increase in screen time.”
While she does not have an internship in place like Grayson, Richter believes she and other students will also see a decrease in screen time this summer as the U.S. returns to normal.
“I think my screen time will start to decrease and fall back to normal in the summertime,” Richter said. “Some restrictions will most likely be lifted, and a more typical routine will be established again.”