How the schedule promotes excessive screen time and what Loomis can do to fix it.

Nathan Ko '23, Contributor

Many of this year’s new circumstances brought a dreary, eternal cycle for students: endlessly staring at a screen.

At one level, the sudden shifts in how Loomis Chaffee conducts education, such as learning online or asynchronously, have caused this perpetual cycle. For online learners, such as myself, most of our education, synchronous or asynchronous, will be displayed on a computer screen.

Naturally, the rise of screen time for education may have resulted in off-task browsing. The convenient mute button and the inability to view others’ screens invite students to wander off from their studies, browsing on an Instagram feed or checking Snapchat.

However, this abrupt educational shift was mirrored by a change in social life as well. The pandemic has led to tighter regulations on campus, such as study halls on Zoom and less free movement in the dormitories. Even in these times, the persistence and duration of phone usage, especially for social media, can be expected to be the same. Or, in fact, we may predict it to rise because less social interaction may have resulted in a wave of phone alerts.

Generally speaking, excessive screen time can bring detrimental consequences such as vision issues, chronic neck and back pain, impaired cognitive function, and most commonly experienced, poor sleep.

But, the most worrisome issue would be the mass use of social media. Both convocation speaker S. E. Cupp and Head of School Dr. Culbert recently praised and recommended The Social Dilemma, a documentary that addresses how social media companies leave a detrimental imprint on society. The documentary reveals how people are manipulated through recommendation feeds, and how there has been a rise in mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, reciprocal with the rise of social media.

With these rapid changes happening, Loomis has yet to make a striking gesture about the dangerous rise of screen time. Though much of the influx of screen time may seem inevitable, which it is, there are ways Loomis could tackle this widespread issue.

First, Loomis Chaffee should continue to display works that unveil the dangerous nature of excessive screen time. The recognition of The Social Dilemma by Dr. Culbert indicates that Loomis may start raising awareness on this issue. There are countless other works, such as podcasts, books, and documentaries, that pierce the veil of the threat of excessive screen time.

Another way Loomis could address this issue is by inviting convocation speakers to speak on this matter. Loomis has been able to invite accomplished guests such as Abby Wambach and Jelani Cobb, and inviting a guest to speak on this rising issue will hit home with the LC community.

It has become easy for Loomis Chaffee to simply shed light on this deeply-entrenched issue; however, it is much harder for students to take individual actions that will mitigate their screen time. A systematic routine that cracks down on screen time would be more beneficial than expecting students to have the willpower to limit their screen time.

An example of such a routine would be to not spend your first or last hour of the day on any electronic device. Studies have shown the detrimental effects of waking up while unconsciously staring at a phone and watching a video on your laptop before going to bead. Putting your electronics aside for these specific time periods would not only alleviate your mood, but also likely lessen your social media intake on that day.

Students could also use night shift to shift the color display on their devices to the warmer colors. By doing so, students would be able to avoid blue light, which has been proved to be detrimental to sleep.

Lastly, students should be encouraged by faculty to print as much material as they possibly can. When online academic materials, such as online textbooks, are used, students should print them out to avoid excessive screen time. Also, reading printed material without distractions will be more effective than reading through your laptop with other more appealing tabs open.

Though many recognize excessive screen time as a disturbing issue, there is often a lack of steps taken as many deem the issue inevitable. However, by utilizing the measures I’ve suggested, many students on the island will find the positive impacts of lessening screen time.