One of the most universal themes of modern life is a pretty significant amount of screen time. People look at a screen for almost any and every reason like business calls, online lectures, catching up with friends, looking at recipes, and scrolling through TikTok. 

With time, more and more aspects of life have become digitalized and now life seems to be happening online. It’s no surprise that this lifestyle isn’t healthy. Humans didn’t evolve to sit around all day, hunched over like shrimp looking at a glowing screen. 

College students’ screen time and the effects that come with it

A group of people who seem particularly affected by excessive screen time would be college students. Typical college students are young adults who have a large chunk of their life online. Their day usually consists of online lectures, plenty of recreational internet usage, keeping in touch with their friends and family, and possibly gaming as well as even creating content. 

For college students away from their homes, technology is like a comfort blanket, allowing them to consume content that makes them feel safe and happy while they deal with the stress of education and being away from their family, often for the first time in their life.

However, there are serious negative effects that come with college students’ screen time. Some of these are:

  • Burnout – when there isn’t any disconnect between education (online lectures), social time (calls with friends and family), and recreation (scrolling through social media, gaming, creating content), many college students suffer from burnout, which is any sort of distress that comes from being unable to disconnect from the online world after a long time. 
  • Eye damage or strain – probably obvious, but can cause pain as well as temporary or permanent damage.
  • Headaches – constantly being sedentary and staring at a screen can also cause headaches. This is because of the strain on the eyes, but can also be from the lack of fresh air and movement. 
  • Relationships suffering – when life happens online, the chances of going out and forming real, lasting memories and relationships decrease dramatically. Meaningful interactions can happen online, but they could never beat real-life experiences.
  • Mental health declining – college students’ screen time can mean they don’t get enough fresh air, don’t exercise enough, don’t see family and friends in real life, and don’t practice mindfulness or meditation. This can all lead to poor or declining mental health.  

Managing screen time

Many organizations and experts like The University of Nevada, Reno, have recommendations for managing screen time and its negative effects. Some of them include:

  • Placing limits on screen time
  • Expressing feelings and emotions by other activities (like art, writing, talking to someone in real life)
  • Being more conscious of screen time and how it’s used
  • Cutting down on screen time that’s purely recreational and doing something productive with it instead (keeping friendships strong, researching, learning)

Digital connectivity and the internet aren’t all bad, but just like with everything, they should be consumed in moderation and with mindfulness. It might not be a possibility for screen time to be zero in the modern world, but that shouldn’t mean it takes over people’s lives. We have to remember who’s in control here, and being aware is the first step toward taking back your time and putting it toward what matters most.

Other sources:

https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol4/iss2/3/