Opinion: Endless hours of required school screen time does damage

By MAKAYLA NAIME and ALLISON STOCKHAM

Many studies have shown that too much screen time negatively affects minors’ brains. Due to distance learning and COVID-19 shut-downs, many kids have been spending a lot more time in front of a screen than they used to. In addition, much of this time is not by students’ choice, but as a requirement to be successful academically.

Before quarantine, the expectations for most classes was that cell phones were to be put away. Fast forward a few months and students are required to spend their entire school day in front of a screen. For Redlands Unified School District high school students, this is from 8:30 a.m. to 2:12 p.m., with scattered passing periods and a 30-minute lunch, five days a week.

Students with seventh period or who need extra support continue until 3 p.m. and those trying to stay involved with extra curricular club zoom meetings, often stay on longer. This does not yet include the many hours of studying and homework assigned that require using a screen.

Due to social distancing, screen time is the safest way to connect with friends and family through social media or online games, and so the screen time continues.

Poll: How many hours do you spend on the screen for school each day?

In a poll taken in October of 2020 of over 60 high school students of the Redlands Unified School District, more than half said they spend more than 9 hours a day on the screen for school purposes. One third of students said they spent seven to eight hours on the screen for school. The infographic representing the data was created using Piktochart. (Makayla Naime and Allison Stockham/ Ethic Media)

According to NewYork-Presbyterian, “Children who spent more than two hours a day on screen-time activities scored lower on language and thinking tests.” With online learning, it is almost impossible to spend less than two hours on screens, as classes usually take at least six hours, and homework and studying several more hours.

NewYork-Presbyterian also says that, “Some children with more than seven hours a day of screen time experienced thinning of the brain’s cortex.” The cortex is the part of the brain that is related to critical thinking and reasoning.

This dramatic increase in screen time is very clearly taking a negative toll on the mental health and possibly the brain development of students.

By staying socially distanced, washing our hands and wearing masks when going out, everyone can do their part in helping the spikes cease, flattening the curve, and so that hopefully students can return to school and work in person for everyone’s benefit.

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