It is well known that teenagers in this generation are very reliant on technology. Many use it as their main source of entertainment, and the majority of teens identify with having a screen addiction. Ever since quarantine took place, technology has been the main way for teens to communicate with friends, do their homework, and entertain themselves. For these reasons, there has been an uptick in teen screen time over the past year.
Avery Gardner, a freshman at Camas High School, said that her screen time has gone up almost double what it was before the quarantine.
“It very much so affected my sleep schedule. Now I go to bed around 1 a.m. compared to 11 p.m.,” she said.
She also admitted that she uses her cell phone in classes occasionally, as many teachers allow phone usage if students have completed their work.
With this being said, Gardner mentioned how the current lunch situation at school might play a role as well.
“With six feet it’s more natural to be on your phone at lunch. I think if no usage during lunch was more of a rule, people would be more inclined to engage with each other,” she said.
Joseph Farland, a freshman and junior English teacher at CHS shared his thoughts on the situation.
“I haven’t really seen a noticeable difference upon our return. If anything, I see fewer phones in the classroom than usual. Maybe students just aren’t quite comfortable enough yet to have the phones in their hands more frequently,” he said.
Farland added, “I’ve never really had a phone policy (or phone ban) other than let’s all recognize when it’s appropriate to take a glance at the phone… I have my phone on my desk all day. I don’t mind if students do the same. And if they need to momentarily access the phone, they should just use it (at the right time).”
Farland’s thoughts on the usage of phones in the classroom are to teach students how to use them appropriately, rather than have them not be considered practice at all.
“Like it or not, these devices are significant pieces of our daily business,” he said. “Students (and adults) need to learn classroom phone etiquette with each other. Simply saying they’re not allowed may temporarily mask potential problems, but it doesn’t necessarily help people learn how to appropriately handle these devices in a school setting.”
Adrienne Atzmiller, an algebra and geometry teacher at CHS, has two distinct feelings about the topic.
“I find phones to be a really fantastic educational tool and a complete hindrance to productivity for students,” Atzmiler said. “This year especially, I feel like even I have relied a bit on students to use phones for academic purposes. And it has definitely been more than in past school years. But at the same time, in the few weeks, we have been back, I have noticed that students seem to always be connected to their phones. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is why some students have struggled to complete work since playing on a phone is much more exciting. I mean, even I feel that way!”
When it comes to the classroom and the subject she teaches, an issue comes up.
“From a math perspective specifically, knowing students have had phones all year is a bit alarming. We know there are apps that do math work for students and we are aware of when students are using them, even if they don’t think we know, so I am concerned about how much learning is happening because of the technology at everyone’s fingertips. I think it would be great to have school (or at least academic class periods) be phone-free times,” Atzmiller said.
Mark Payne, a CHS honors English teacher, claimed that he is worried that “our social skills have atrophied and that the anxiety surrounding the pandemic will linger after it’s gone, which may lead to us being more isolated and less likely to have healthy social lives in real life.”
He currently does not allow phone usage in his classroom as he wants and believes students should be present in class. Payne acknowledges the fact that students have been limited in the social aspect of life and understands that technology is one of the easiest ways to communicate.
Payne said that he has struggled with screen time and phone usage in general too.
“My screen time has practically doubled, especially because of remote learning,” he said.
Thomas Huang, a 9th grader at CHS, said that with the given restrictions and limitations, his screen time has gone up a significant amount.
He said, “I use my phone to facetime, my friends, to entertain myself.” He also said, “With my screen time going up over quarantine, I have noticed changes in my sleep schedule.”
He added that he sometimes has trouble falling asleep and ends up staying up later than he should.
Now, students have noticed a pattern with their screen time. Almost every student reported that their screen time increased ever since the lockdown. These same students also reported having trouble falling asleep at night and going to bed a lot later than they should.