Screen Time Affects Students’ Mental and Physical Health


Even though distance learning is keeping Livermore High School students, staff, and the community as a whole safe from contacting COVID-19, the increased time spent on the computer and in front of other screens could have negatively affected students.


According to the Washington Post, the average time teenagers spend on screens is 7 hours and 22 minutes, without considering how much time is spent doing classwork or homework as well.

Adrianna Trifiletti (12) has found that with the movement from learning in-person to distance learning she has witnessed changes in her screen time habits.


“They’ve definitely fluctuated.” Trifiletti said regarding the amount of time she spends on devices, “it was really high at the beginning of quarantine but it’s going back down as school starts again. As I get used to the new schedule, I’m trying to adjust my screen time so I’m doing more than just sitting on my phone.”


Although Trifiletti has succeeded in decreasing the amount of time she spends on her phone, distance learning still requires students to spend long hours in front of a screen to attend class and complete assignments. This lengthy time spent on devices could negatively affect many aspects of their lives.


Since students are spending a large majority of their time sitting in front of screens to learn, they could be inadvertently harming their mental and physical health.


Although several studies have been conducted to determine whether or not screen time has an impact on teenagers’ brains, the results have remained inconclusive.


On one hand, researchers have determined that spending too much time on screens is detrimental to health, especially the health of adolescents. Gadi Lissak, the case author of a study that focused on the implications of excessive screen time on adolescents is one of these individuals.


Lissak wrote that the use of devices has resulted in individuals experiencing poor sleep quality and vision impairments. Lissak’s work also detailed the mental struggles that students face, including behavior commonly associated with those who have been diagnosed with ADHD, an increase in depressive tendencies, and a growing number of anxiety disorders.


While Lissak’s work primarily focused on the effect the use of mobile devices, namely phones, have on teens, other works have shown that the problems are also prevalent among those who use computers as well.


Sara Thomée, Annika Härenstam, and Mats Hagberg, authors at BMC Psychiatry conducted a study where individuals between the ages of 20 to 24 were selected and asked to fill in a questionnaire then asked to participate in a one-year follow-up. After the data concerning the amount of time the participants spent on screens was reviewed, it was concluded that the more time an individual spent in front of a computer, the more sleep they lost as a result.


On the other hand, however, other researchers have found no clear link between the mental health of adolescents and extensive screen time. Following a collection of data from a number of experiments, the final piece published in the Psychological Science revealed there was, “little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital-screen engagement—measured throughout the day or particularly before bedtime—and adolescent well-being.” This conclusion negates all previously satiated conclusions of previous studies that utilized the same methods of collecting data.


Although conflicting conclusions have left researchers with many questions regarding the effects screen time has on teens’ brains, it has been proven that sitting at a desk for multiple hours a day puts stress on the body. This stress can manifest as back pain, wrist pain, eye strain, and other issues. These discomforts can be attributed to spending hours working on a computer without proper support.

While working on a computer is unavoidable this year, since LHS students depend on their screens to work from home, making changes to their habits, posture, and workspaces could help them with any adverse effects they could be facing.