By David Herbold, April 6, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a massive increase in the amount of time the Cal Poly Pomona community spends in front of their screens. For many, the increase in screen time has been noted to be increasingly difficult to manage as most daily activity continues to take place online.
According to a 2020 study by Psychiatry Research, there is a positive correlation between increased screen time and declining mental health. Thus, it has become more important for campus community members to seek ways to stay mentally healthy while social distancing.
CPP community members shared their experience with The Poly Post and offered tips to avoid excessive screen time and maintain mental health.
“Before the pandemic, I would spend an average of four to five hours per day in front of my computer screen. Most of that time was spent researching content for trainings or coaching sessions, creating training content or responding to emails. Now with the pandemic, that time has nearly doubled and I spend pretty much my entire working day in front of my screen. I’ve always implemented pre-planned, brief breaks into my schedule to improve productivity and increase focus. Working remotely, I’ve been able to incorporate exercise more fully into my breaks, which I have found to be extremely beneficial. My advice to others to manage screen time is to use timers to help remind you when to take breaks. Although sometimes you get into a flow and want to keep working through, you can quickly reach a point of mental exhaustion and even a short break can boost your efficiency and effectiveness.”
“Before the pandemic my screen time on average would be three to four hours per day. My activities included going to class, work and doing homework. I would also hang out with friends at night almost every day. These days, I spend around eight to 10 hours on screens per day. This includes classes, homework and watching shows on TV. Some of the things that make me get me away from my computer are going to work and going out for walks. My advice for others is to try to reduce your screen time by enjoying the outdoors. Also, if you are living with your family, take this time at home to spend it with them.”
“My screen time average has gone up from about four hours a day before the pandemic to close to nine as of now. Since August of last year, I’ve been getting lots of eye strain from so much computer use. I just got glasses this weekend to try to help with that, so hopefully, the problem won’t get any worse. But since it really isn’t possible to not use a computer for online school, there isn’t much you can do.”
“I spent around 12-18 hours per week before the pandemic using screens and now spend around 21-27 hours per week. I used to use screen time for activities like composing, recording, communication and grading. Now, I mainly use it for synchronous lectures. To get away from my computer, I use daily exercise, outdoor walks and video games on the living room TV. My advice to others is try to constantly check in with your physical body. How are you sitting? Is your diaphragm tight or relaxed? How is your breathing shallow or deep? Just being aware of your body can help ease any tension that might be building and contributing to stress. Also, try to stand up and walk around away from the computer once every hour or so, just for a minute before coming back to what you were doing.”
“Before the pandemic, my screen time would average about one to three hours per day. Some things I used my screen time for before COVID-19 are homework, studying for tests and doing club activities. Now, I spend about eight to nine hours on the computer on average per day, doing things like Zoom calls, doing homework and spending time with friends. Some of the things that I do to get away from the computer would be going outside for a walk and reading a book. My advice for others is to take a break and go outside because online classes can be exhausting. Going outside is a good way to get some fresh air and get your mind off school.”
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