Screen Time: Is it worth it?

Two students passing the time by scrolling through social media on their phones. Photo by Mariah Wiggs.

In today’s world where teens and young adults are found scrolling through Instagram on iPhone’s and tablets, or binge-watching the hottest series on Netflix or Hulu on their laptop, little thought is put into the affects of too much screen time.

Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that the most commonly cited downside of excessive screen time is low mood, or depression.

Competing for likes and followers on social media can create a hunger for acceptance from society.  Not receiving those likes can cripple one’s self-esteem.

Samantha Boardman is psychiatrist who specializes in mental illnesses. She is also the founder of “Positive Prescriptions” and suggests a connection between binge-watching television and depression in one of her investigations.

“Spending eight hours watching episode after episode can leave you feeling empty and depleted afterwards,” said Boardman. “Guilt is a key factor.”

Regardless of having things to do, there becomes a sense of inability to tear away from TV when watching a series of new YouTube videos or for some, all 15 seasons of ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’

College students also lose valuable sleep time while up late at night either on the phone or watching TV before bed.

A 2017 study by Minnesota State University, shows college students from 17 to 25 only average 4 – 6.9 hours of sleep before tackling the day ahead.

A healthy amount of sleep time is 8-10 hours.

In a day and age where technology surrounds us, how does one avoid too much screen time?

Active students at Florida A&M University like music business scholar, Elias Wallace, might find it easier to avoid the distractions of notifications flooding their phone.

“As an active person on campus, it probably won’t affect them too much because they are busy doing other things,” said Wallace. “When they do finally find the time, they are able to have that perfect balance between doing what you have to do, being on your phone, watching TV and all that stuff.”

Javante Stephens, a first year graphic design student at FAMU also understands the excessive amount of time that can be spent in front of a screen and the toll it can take on his body not only in school, but over the course of his career

“For my major it is necessary,” said Stephens. “During my free time I like to stay away from things like that so I can balance it out.”

For those who want to monitor or track their screen time, Apple has incorporated a “Screen Time” tracker.  This feature allows users see how much time they spend on apps in their phone throughout the week.  Users can even create a “Downtime” that allows them to schedule time away from the screen.

It is not always easy, but limiting time spent in front of the screen can be the difference between productiveness and depression.