The Post-COVID Screen Time Pandemic

Media provided by Louise Giddings ’23

In 2020, as the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increased, so did the amount of time the world spent online. In that time of crisis, there were not many other ways for teenagers to interact with the world. 

Teenagers predominantly relied on their phones or other devices to communicate and be social. Moreover, as quarantine habits have stuck around, even as the world shifted back to normalcy, teenagers still face the repercussions of extended hours of screen time. 

A Google survey was sent to the Grace community asking a few screen time related questions. Below is a pie chart identifying the amount of time spent on screen:

Forms response chart. Question title: What is your average daily screen time?. Number of responses: 38 responses.

In the same survey, roughly 66% of people who responded could confidently agree that the amount of time spent on their screens interferes with their sleep schedules. Research shows that sleep schedules suffer when users spend time on apps with calculated algorithms that make users almost unable to close the app. Becoming addicted to these apps and using them for extended periods of time shortens the amount of time in the day that is meant to be dedicated to REM sleep. The blue light that radiates from the screen of a phone or a computer has been proven to disrupt the REM sleep cycle (Harvard Medical School). Spending time looking at a blue light screen before going to bed can lead to this disruption and can be one of the causes of a teenager’s unhealthy sleep schedule. 

From the same Grace survey, approximately 85% responded that they spend the most time on social media apps including TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. The distribution of time spent on social media apps synthesized from the Google Form data is as follows:

20/34 students spend most of their time on Tik Tok

29/34 students spend most of their time on Social Media (TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter)

16/36 students said their screen time interferes with their schoolwork definitively

23/35 students said their screen time interferes with their sleep schedule definitively

As the results of the survey demonstrated, our phones and social media apps have become an integral part of our lives. Technology has catalyzed the advancement of our society. We have become dependent on social media to feel belonging and connection. It would be unrealistic to advise anyone to reduce their screen times to zero. 

However, there are many smaller, more manageable ways to maintain a healthier lifestyle surrounding devices. 

Ronan J. ‘24 shared how he does yoga when trying to unplug. 

Zoe Z. ‘26 explained how she “plays cards with my dad” when she is not on screen. 

Nico P. ‘24 meditates instead of scrolling on his phone. 

Eva S. ‘24 goes for walks to unplug. 

Discovering enjoyable activities that do not involve staring at a phone could help avoid the negative impacts of extended screen time. In a post-COVID era, teenagers may begin to rely more on in-person interactions, just as they did in the past.