The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

The Student Voice of St. George's School

The Creed

The Unrecognized Screen Time Issue

How screen time is affecting your mental health more than you think


Students Liam and George looking at their phones before a field trip

In an era defined by digital connectivity, screen time has become an inescapable part of our daily lives, especially for teenagers. From the moment they wake up to the time they go to bed, screens are a constant presence, providing entertainment, education, and a means of social interaction. However, this omnipresence comes at a cost—a cost we often choose to ignore despite the growing body of evidence highlighting its detrimental effects on mental health.

As we scroll through endless feeds, binge-watch series, and engage in virtual conversations, we overlook the silent toll this constant engagement takes on our minds. Research increasingly points to a troubling correlation between excessive screen time and rising rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues among teenagers. Yet, despite recognizing these risks, many of us continue to prioritize screen-based activities, dismissing the potential harm they cause.

It’s a paradoxical situation: we know that prolonged screen time is bad for us, much like junk food or a sedentary lifestyle. We acknowledge the studies, the expert warnings, and the anecdotal evidence from our own lives, but we rarely take meaningful steps to reduce our screen exposure. Instead, we seek other solutions to improve our mental health—mindfulness apps, therapy sessions, and wellness trends—while neglecting the simple, yet powerful, act of unplugging.

The irony is striking. We are willing to invest time and money into various strategies to enhance our mental well-being, yet we shy away from addressing one of the most pervasive factors contributing to our distress. The screens that provide us with a sense of connection and distraction are, in many cases, the very source of our disconnection and unease.

Exploding Topics, 2023


Instead of measuring screen time using ‘hours’, another perspective to visualize it is by the time you are awake, in which almost half of it is via a phone, tablet, or tv screen. The infographic above shows that almost half of one’s waking time is spent looking a a device or screen. Taking into account the other things you’re doing throughout your day — driving, cooking, walking, and doing other chores — this statistic is even more extreme. 

Most of us study and work using a computer screen, and we learn and gather information by watching videos or seeing visual presentations, charts, or infographics. So, can we ever reduce screen time when it is so heavily ingrained in our lives?

Screen Time Survey

The pervasive integration of digital devices into daily life has made it challenging for many individuals to recognize the negative impacts of screen time on mental health. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances often develop gradually, making it difficult to attribute these issues directly to screen use. This gradual onset obscures the connection between screen habits and mental health problems (Harvard Medical School, 2019)​​. Additionally, the widespread acceptance of digital devices for work, education, and social interactions leads to the normalization of high screen time, causing many to overlook its potential negative consequences (Adventist Health, 2023)​​.

According to this survey conducted on high-school students, 50% of them stated they have spent 4-5 hours on their phone daily, with no one on the survey having less than an hour on their screen time. 

The addictive nature of digital platforms further complicates the recognition of their mental health impacts. This constant pursuit of short-term gratification can mask the longer-term negative effects on mental well-being (Harvard Medical School, 2019)​. Moreover, screen time, especially before bed, disrupts sleep patterns by inhibiting melatonin production, a hormone crucial for sleep. Poor sleep quality is closely linked to various mental health issues, yet many fail to connect their screen habits with sleep disruptions (NCBI, 2016)​​.

As seen in this image above, there are many mixed answers and thoughts when it comes to people thinking about whether or not their phones affect their lives. 

While some students think their screen time has little effect on their lives, others quote “A lot of my screen time is having a YouTube video open while I do anything else.” Another student stated that “Sometimes, [he] spends time on my phone when [he] could be channelling [his]  energy into something more productive.” 

Branching off this similar trend, another student said this, “Yes. Sometimes it feels like I waste a lot of valuable time. time goes faster when I’m scrolling on my phone and it makes me wonder if I could be doing something more important with that time.”

As a result, there seems to be a lot of mixed answers when it comes to how people think their phone usage affects their lives. Some people just state how it could make them less productive; yet, there isn’t really a link between that and other mental health problems. 

I Interviewed one of my friends to find out more


However, despite these studies, many people in our survey responded that they would like to decrease their screen time usage, at least a little bit more than they do right now. Almost 40% of participants stated that they wanted less than 3 hours a day, with 20% of people wanting a screen time usage of less than an hour.

What are some Sustainable Ways to Reduce Screen Time?

Currently, the problem with much advice online in regards to reducing screen time is that changes are very drastic and not very sustainable for most people. For example, telling individuals to simply ‘stop using their phone’ for ‘x’ amount of time is easier said and done, and requires more discipline than most people think. Oftentimes, this leads to people following these changes for only a few days, and then going back to their own habits.

So, What can be Done?

One of the best ways to break or change a habit is to make the habit harder to perform subconsciously. This can be done by simply placing your phone far away from your bed when you sleep or placing it in another room when you are eating.

There’s an even simpler way, however.

Most of our screentime is accumulated through checking notifications throughout the day. So, if we mitigate these distractions without even consciously thinking about them, we can reduce our screen time heavily without trying a new habit or strategy.

Notification Summaries

By scheduling unnecessary notifications (social media, games) into specific chunks in the day, you are less likely to want to look at your phone. Another perk of scheduled summaries is that you can still receive important notifications in an instant, as you can choose which apps you want to be in your scheduled summary.

Not only can this mitigate the unnecessary times you are checking your device but it can also save your phone some battery life. 

To do this, Go to Settings > Notifications > Scheduled Summary, then turn on Scheduled Summary

After doing this simple and short time, you are most likely less tempted to go on your phone as you will receive less live notification updates on your phone, making you more focussed or present in the situation or place you are in.

Making it harder for yourself

Building off the trend of creating subconscious habits to make phone screen use harder, try to have your bed-side phone charger away from arm’s reach. That way, you are not tempted to look at your phone the minutes before bed. This can also be applied during the day. You can leave your phone in a separate room or away from arm’s reach, which can make it more difficult to reach and grab it during your tasks. 



The unrecognized mental health epidemic tied to screen time is a growing concern that demands our attention and action. While digital connectivity has become an integral part of our lives, we must acknowledge the profound impact it has on our mental well-being. The correlation between excessive screen time and mental health issues like anxiety and depression is evident and alarming. As a society, we need to shift our focus towards mindful and sustainable strategies to reduce screen exposure, such as managing notifications and creating physical barriers to phone use. By doing so, we can reclaim our mental health and foster a healthier relationship with technology, ensuring that our digital interactions enhance rather than hinder our overall well-being.


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About the Contributor
Alex Yang
Alex Yang, Staff Writer
Currently a Senior at St. George's School, Alex is ecstatic to be a part of the Echo this year! From dazzling the chords on the electric guitar to learning quirky pop songs on the piano, Alex is passionate about music and the arts. At Saints, Alex is an active member of the community. He was a part of the Discovery 10 cohort, as well as a member of the Sustainability Council, Saints Sprouts, and Concert Band, performing in the Pit Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. In his spare time, Alex can be found picking up and putting down heavy circles, listening to Frank Ocean, discovering new R&B Music, and hiking in the backcountry. Through Journalism this year, Alex hopes to expand his impact on his community.

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