How much screen time is too much?

19 February 2019

Brianna Kraemer

bkraemer@uccs.edu

    Technology can be used as a tool in our lives that most people use daily to not only communicate and get work done, but also to watch T.V., play games and go on social media as well. Everyone has their own opinion on how much time is too much to be staring at screens each day, and studies show positive and negative effects as well.

   The professors in the Psychology and Communication departments have some thoughts on the topic.

    Michael Kisley is a psychology professor at UCCS and prefers that his students avoid using their phones during his class. He believes phones draw student attention away from what is going on in the classroom and impedes learning.

    Kisley said, “laptops and other tablets can often be helpful for students and their learning during class. However, I’ve noticed that it also makes it easier for students to browse the internet or do online shopping, which again can be very distracting to the other students sitting nearby.”

    Maja Krakowiak, who works in the Communication department, said, “I mostly teach online, so as a result I am in full support of people using computers and anything they have access to. In the classes I have taught in person, I have generally asked people to stay off their phones or the internet because I think it’s easy to get distracted.”

    Some concerns arise from these professors when talking about how humans interact and communicate. Kisley sees the many benefits technology has given us; however, he also sees the danger. “The danger, in my view, is that people often miss opportunities for unique and social experiences because they are too engaged with their electronic device to notice and participate in interesting things and interactions going on in their immediate environment.”

    He continued on by expressing his greater concern for the quick and automatic way that people seem to turn to their devices as soon as there is a break in the action. “My suggestion is, the next time you are about to pull out your phone to kill a couple of minutes, take a mindful step back for a moment. Maybe there’s someone nearby you could chat with. Or maybe there’s a situation in your life that could benefit from some focused thought. Or just look around and take note of something interesting you see,” said Kisley.

    At the end of the day, Kisley worries a little less about changing patterns in social interaction and skills because humans are social animals. He believes it may change how we interact, but it will probably not change our need to interact with one another.

    Krakowiak sees the advantages of quick and easy access to information, although he admits that with these advantages come some good and bad sources.

    People are able to communicate from far away using technology, but social media has also made a lifestyle of comparing oneself to others’ images. “Technology makes people more self conscious about their appearance, for example, like on Instagram or comparing themselves to others, and I think that is a potential negative,” said Krakowiak.

    Krakowiak went on the explain how anything that takes up too much of our time or that we feel we can not control our time with can become problematic.

    Although she does not know much on the research of getting addicted to technology, Krakowiak believes the best thing to do is to be conscious of the amount of time you’re spending on screens. “I, for example, like that feature on the iPhone where it tells you your weekly screen time. I think it helps us to become a little bit more aware of how we’re using this technology and how much time it’s taking and what it could be taking away from.”

    From some student perspectives, technology does not seem to be as much of a concern, possibly due to the constant access from a young age. Students interviewed did not seem to mind being on their phones during class as long as it was quick, not inhibiting focus and not being rude towards the professor.

    Students seem to be in full support of laptop use for note-taking and listening to music.“I think it makes it easier for us to communicate. It only affects you sometimes in the way that it’s harder for people to talk to other people at this point because they are more comfortable doing it over text,” said freshman Mady Moran, a criminal justice major.

    The one thing people can do is be mindful of their time spent on electronics by choosing when is enough and when to go out and talk to others face-to-face in the real world.

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