Behind the Screen: Screen time sees all-time high


While technology is a prominent part of teens lives, there are habits to lessen the negative effects.

The blue-tinted screen amplifies your room as you look at the time, and it says it is 1:30 a.m. You have been in bed for two hours, but simply cannot put your phone down as you scroll aimlessly through TikTok and continuously tell yourself “five more minutes.”
Only a couple of decades ago, the idea of having a screen in your possession at all times was unimaginable, but now, the idea of spending an hour away from refreshing your social media or opening your screen can feel unimaginable.
Students consistently use their devices despite the thought they use them too much, like many other Americans. According to a 2022 Gallup poll, six in ten Americans think they use their phone too much.
Based on a study published in 2022 by Common Sense Media, overall screen use among teens and tweens has hit an all-time high, increasing 17 percent from 2019 to 2021.
According to an online survey of 147 students, 20% of Stags use screens five to seven hours a day and 8% use their screens for eight or more hours a day between school and home.
“At school I probably use my Chromebook for every class,” freshman Ryan Doble said. “I would say an hour or two is a healthy amount of time to spend on screens, but I spend four to five hours at school.”
Junior Quinn Coleman uses her screen mainly for school and entertainment but has had to put restrictions on what apps she uses due to the negative effects too much time on social media causes her.
“I don’t use Instagram,” Coleman said. “I only go on it once in a blue moon because of all the pretty models and how it can make me feel insecure about myself.”
Social media can be used in a positive way, but according to Katherine McGee, cutting down her phone use to one to two hours a day has made her phone a more positive tool of communication.
“I left social media because a lot of what I was seeing was not useful or needed,” McGee said. “To give me a little boost, at the start of the school year, I deleted all of my social media so that there was nothing negative interfering with my life.”
Average screen time has increased for various reasons, from the want of social connection left from the COVID-19 pandemic to the necessity from school. CNN said kids’ average daily screen use increased by 1.5 times during the pandemic – from a baseline of 162 minutes a day before the pandemic to 246 minutes during the pandemic, according to an analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics.
After teaching for over 20 years, fine arts teacher Michael Long said that he worries about the anxiety that students feel as they spend more time on social media apps. Because of this, he has chosen to use a phone with limited capabilities to detoxify his life.
“I’ve seen anxiety shoot through the roof with smartphones,” Long said. “From the studies I’ve read, 25% of teenagers with smartphones said they had a negative experience with social media. I just think it’s weird that so many people who have had a negative experience continue to do it every day.”
Long said he believes that social media can be a great tool if used correctly, but many users do not properly utilize their phones, which is exactly what these social media creators want.
“The people that are designing these platforms whole goal is to keep you on those platforms — they have become masters at finding out how to create dopamine in your system,” Long said. “You pick up your phone and boom you get dopamine. I think people get bored with their lives and want to see other things rather than deal with what is happening in their lives. I think it is an escape for some people.”
According to Doble, once he realized how unhealthy screen time can be for him, he tried to cut out as much social media as possible.
“I try to lower my limits,” Doble said. “I set reminders and try to spend more time doing an athletic activity like lifting or just try to spend more time with my family.”
Long believes that teenagers and other social media users get lost in the idea that others have the ideal life, but in reality everything is a filter and people post what they want others to see.
“Everything is good in moderation,” Long said. “I think smartphones have the intention to be great devices, but unfortunately I think more people are being used by their computers and their phones.”