Stuck at home, students experience increase in screen time


Berk Oto

With virtual class on Zoom, to an increase in time to kill at home, students are experiencing a substantial increase in screen time.

Abigail Slimmon, Editor-In-Chief

After finishing online school, senior Lanh Matelski closes her laptop and turns to her phone to check Instagram and Snapchat, catching up on what she missed while in class. 

For U-High students, social distancing has meant hours of online classes and maybe a few lazy days around the house. With so much time to kill, many have experienced a huge increase in screen time since social distancing began. 

Staying home has given  Lanh more free time in the day that she never used to have. Lanh explained that to get to and from school she took public transportation for a total of 2 hours each day. Now, that time is usually spent on her phone. 

“I also only really used my phone during free periods and lunch, so that would put my screentime to like, 4 to 7 hours a day. But now that we’re all at home, everything is accessible online, which means while I get an extra six hours, just by not being at school,” Lanh said. 

Lanh admitted that with classes online and all her free time, it sometimes does feel like she has been staring at screens for way too long. She explained that when she does feel like this, she tries to use her phone less the following few days. 

Before social distancing began, CNN reported that the average U.S. teen would spend more than seven hours per day in front of a screen for entertainment, not even including screens used for school work. 

In Lab’s 2019 Middle and High School Student Health & Wellness Survey, the average U-high student reported spending 2.8 hours per school day. But, since the stay-at-home order began, students say these numbers have only gone up.

Ninth grader Ella Hultquist said she has also had an increase in screen time but doesn’t mind it because being on her phone allows her to feel close to her friends when she can’t see them. 

“I miss my friends a lot because I can’t hang out with them,” Ella said, “but connecting with them through my phone is really nice and it feels like everything is normal.” 

She explained that in some ways, using her phone distracts her from everything going on in the world and lets her escape it all for a little but it also allows her to connect to others going through this uncertain time as well. 

So, when online math class ends and there are no more bio notes to complete, Ella can reach for her phone to talk to her friends through apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, and know she is not alone.