Jessica Baggott | email@example.com | June 16, 2018
At the beginning of your freshman year at d.tech, you are handed your very own, shiny, new Chromebook. This new Chromebook is complete with a d.tech email address, GoGuardian, and pre-connected, somewhat reliable WiFi. You use your Chromebook (which you may or may not have named Gertrude) in almost every class period of the day. Having your very own Chromebook is pretty great; you have what’s left of the aggressively filtered internet at your fingertips, you don’t have to lug around heavy textbooks all day, and you have almost all of your school work in the same place.
What you don’t consider is the fact that you’re now spending a large portion of the school day looking at a screen. On top of that, you spend a good amount of time on your phone and your Nintendo Switch playing Super Mario Odyssey. You wonder to yourself, “is this amount of time looking at a screen healthy?”
In a survey conducted of 50 d.tech students, 23 replied saying that they spend between three to six hours on their Chromebook each day, and 18 replied that they spend between one to three hours. Although it is unsurprising to see students on their Chromebook for a good portion of the time they are at school, these figures do not yet include time spent on mobile phones, personal computers, televisions, gaming consoles, and other electronic devices. A rough estimate based on the data, concludes that a d.tech student spends about 10.3 hours on their collective devices each day. This is a stark contrast to the average 5.6 hours a day reported by 10 other high school students surveyed who do not attend d.tech.
However, this large amount of time spent looking at screens isn’t necessarily bad. Some d.tech students report that it makes them happier, more social, and more knowledgeable. Other benefits include increased reading, writing, and critical thinking skills, gaining more social connection, political and social awareness, support options, and forms of self-expression. Sophomore Ethan Shedd explains, “I actually researched my ancestry on ancestry.com. I also look up programing stuff when I’m programing… I’m trying to expand my knowledge, and I use the internet a lot to research research questions and whatnot.”
On the other hand, many other students report that after screen usage, their eyes hurt, twitch, and dry out more easily, that they are more often distracted, and have a harder time falling asleep. Some even went as far as to say they are addicted to their devices. Furthermore, according to Psychology Today and a study done by Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, there is a correlation between time spent on electronic devices and suicidal risk factors, increased anxiety, and even shrinkage and loss of tissue in areas of the brain where processing and development of empathy occurs. As junior Jaya Reddy put it, “I feel like I like am forced to be on Snapchat because I don’t want to be the one kid who misses out. But at the same time, when I’m on Snapchat and Instagram, I’m just left out of stuff left and right… it hurts and it makes me sad, but I’m always reverting back to that because that’s just something I feel like I can’t miss out on.”
Both Executive Director Dr. Ken Montgomery and math teacher Freedom Cheteni echo that the internet can be a double-edged sword. Chromebooks, as well as other screens, provide amazing opportunities to learn as well can be incredibly efficient and useful for school work in particular. “It’s a really efficient way to deliver all the work. It lets you have your textbook, your notebook: everything all in one place.” says Montgomery.
However, what we are all too aware of is the fact that our computers can be our greatest enemies. “Built into your Chromebook is something that was designed to distract you. It makes students much more easily [able to get] off track when compared to when you’re just sitting there with a textbook and reading ‘page one, page two,’” explains Montgomery. Even Cheteni, who often integrates VR and other technologies into his class explains: “Considering that we have a state of the art Design Realization Garage where students could and should be making [things], [it is important that] we find a balance.”
There are both benefits and downsides alike to the amount of media we consume on a daily basis. The internet is an amazing resource and can give people great joy. However, if you find yourself with a sore back, dry eyes, and constant need to be on a device, consider taking a break or cutting down on usage. Just like with anything else in life, screen time is healthy in moderation. Even though it can sometimes feel like the internet is your home, the world has so much to offer besides your iPhone X and Kanye’s new song, so go out there and get it.