Facing another pandemic: Addiction to electronics

Electronics have been made a necessary tool in today’s society, so it is easy to forget the harmful effects of this new technology.

With screen devices becoming more of a necessity in everyday life, it is easy to spend hours on end in front of a computer or another device. Although these electronics are a useful tool for learning, they threaten the mental and even physical health of students, school staff, and everyone else who is trapped at a screen for numerous hours. Even at school, students are instructed to use their computers all day.

Since the early 2000s, the use of electronics such as smart phones and computers have become more and more popular. Recently, the switch to virtual instruction forced schools to turn to technology to keep students learning. The school is completely reliant on computers, so it is no surprise that students are required to use a computer for at least four hours or more a day. 

Ben Letvin, a sophomore, confesses, “I use electronics for around 7 hours” in a day. Not including time spent using screens for school, teenagers average 7 hours and 22 minutes of screen use. And when students aren’t looking at their computer screens, they are looking at their phones. There is no doubt that electronics have become an addiction of their own. Gratification is instantly rewarded whenever a new movie or video is watched. 


Rogers, P. (2015, July 5). [Teens staring at screens]. The New York Times. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/ screen-addiction-is-taking-a-toll-on-children/

Excessive use of electronics can have many harmful effects on the mind. Dr. Janice Kowalski, a board certified psychiatrist, explains, “Research has linked excessive screen time to school problems, aggression and other behavioral issues. The ‘sensory overload’ causes kids to have poor focus and depletes their mental energy, which often leads to anger and explosive behavior.” 

Another consequence of excessive screen time is not being able to put the electronic away. Being forced away from a screen can cause vocal and even physical aggression. Other mental effects that electronics can cause is a lack of self confidence and other insecurities. 

Social media is one of the top uses of electronics. People start comparing themselves to the fake “perfect” life of a social media “influencer.”  Most “influencers” only post their good moments and their viewers do not understand that life does not flow smoothly all the time. There are many impressionable individuals in the world and a lot of fake information. Many people make themselves believe any information that they want to. 

Electronics also pose harmful physical effects. Around 90% of people admitted they use their cell phone while driving. Edgar Snyder and Associates, a personal injury law firm, explains that in America, 1 in 4 car accidents and about 390,000 injuries each year are caused by texting and driving. 

A sophomore at Long Reach shared their own story with electronic distractions: “On multiple occasions, I’ve almost hit people when I’m riding my bike. Everyone has both earbuds in and they don’t hear me when I yell or ring my bell. I wish people would pay more attention to where they are going.” 

A lengthy list of other physical effects of screen time include hand and wrist injuries, neck pain, shoulder and back pain, dry and burning eyes, blurred visions, headaches, altered sleep patterns, fatigue from blue light exposure. Excessive electronic use is also an indirect link to obesity. Spending hours in front of a screen everyday does not allow time for other activities such as exercising, meal preparation, and interacting with other people. 

Screen use can also cause a strain in a family relationship. A student commented, “Whenever there is downtime at the house, everyone just hops on their phone. Even my parents. They used to be the ones to tell us to spend time together. We don’t spend a lot of time together anymore. And I feel like a disturbance if I suggest playing a board game or going on a walk together. I kind of gave up.” 

At this time, there isn’t much students or teachers can do to combat the overuse of computers for school. Due to hybrid instruction, even students who returned in-person were still required to use their chromebooks for 100% of the assigned work. However, if we don’t find ways to mitigate this phenomenon, more people will suffer from mental instabilities stemming from social media, a decrease of physical health, faltering relationships, and undoubtedly, the human race will interact more with A.I. than our own kind. 

How to manage screen time

Turn off all notifications – App developers created notifications less so they can give you urgent, immediate updates, and more so they can suck you back into their platform. Notifications are truly a marketing tool that interrupt your normal activities. (Think of anytime you were doing something and immediately dropped it when you heard that notification ping!) When you turn off your notifications, you decide when to pick up the phone and check messages, not the phone.

Set timers for apps to remind you when you’ve spent a lot of time on one app – Although you can just dismiss the reminder and stay on the app, it can help you realize how much time you’ve been watching TikTok videos. Many people are surprised when they see how much time they spend looking at their phone, and this awareness is the first step towards taking a break.

When there is time to relax, don’t pick up your phone or computer – Many people go to video games or TV shows when they have free time. Instead, invest your time in a hobby. Read a book, draw a picture, spend time with your pet(s), play cards or a board game with your family, invite your friends over, clean your room or house, or get in some physical activity with a walk outside or an exercise routine indoors.

Work on self control – Developmental molecular biologist Dr. John Medina states an indicator of one’s achievement in life can be tied to good impulse control. Don’t give in to every impulse you have to jump on your favorite app or game during the day. When you are able to say no to your impulses, you spend less time “wasted” on your phone or computer. Try this strategy: Every time you have the urge to grab that phone, tell yourself to just wait 5 minutes. You just might get involved in something else and no longer need to check the device.

Don’t charge your electronics near your bed – When electronics are next to your bed, you are more likely to pick them up and not get good sleep.