EvCC Students Cut Back on Screen Time

Students discuss their screen-time habits and how they've been able to cut down during quarantine.

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With social distancing continuing in Washington, EvCC students seem unable to get away from screens even when they want to. For some students fortunate enough to still be working, they may be doing so remotely. They’re communicating with their family and friends via Zoom and trying to entertain themselves with Netflix binges. People of all ages are utilizing online classes to continue their education or to broaden their skill set. Parents are doubling down by monitoring young children’s screen time to ensure they spend enough time on the computer to complete their schoolwork.

Grace Foley shares her “Don’t Forget” journal page. (Courtesy photo from Grace Foley)

While this excess of screen time does serve a purpose, EvCC students can move forward with work, education and social lives. The concern about being overly devoted to screens and technology isn’t unfounded.  

“Too much screen time is linked with all kinds of negative effects for children – from obesity, having a hard time focusing, increased aggression, even proper eye development,” says EvCC Child Development and Family Child Care Management instructor Kathryn Gauthier.

Pre COVID-19, it was easy to let screens take over our lives and the lives of our children, and now it’s even easier. This motivated EvCC student Grace Foley to cut out screen time entirely on weekends and focus on limiting it during the week as much as possible.

Grace Foley shares her “Mood Tracking” journal page. (Courtesy photo from Grace Foley)

“Screens were dictating my life and I was feeling burnt out like never before. So, I started bullet journaling to notice my day-to-day feelings and be more in control. With the help of everyday monitoring I saw the days I ditched the screen was when I was happiest,” said Foley.   

The bullet journal has also helped her re-establish her fitness routine. Before the EvCC campus was closed to students, Foley used to keep active at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center. “When the Fitness Center closed, I lost my momentum. It wasn’t until I started a habit tracker within my bullet journal that I discovered exercise again. It’s become my non-screen favorite activity of the day,” said Foley.

EvCC student and mother of two Shelly Storer has been diminishing her family screen time too. Storer works remotely and is full-time at EvCC. After her screen obligations are met all screens are off. “This is a weird time of life. I want to make it memorable for my kids but for the right reasons. When the screens are off, it’s play time,” Storer says. Her family’s most recent play time creation was a cardboard slide that’s the length of her entire staircase.

EvCC student Shelly Storer’s homemade cardboard stair slide. (Courtesy photo from Shelly Storer)

“Now that it’s sunny more often, to fight cabin fever, we’ve been trying to do more outdoor activities. The kids have loved being in the backyard tracing the shadows of their toys. Or jumping on a makeshift bounce house, which is just their air mattress from camping.  It’s a little bit of a mess but you get some needed fresh air,” said Storer.

For parents of multiple children with differing ages or those looking to save money on non-screen activities, Gauthier recommends a recycle creation activity in place of screen time. “Give children the time and space to create whatever their imagination comes up with.  Children will play with the same materials in different ways and that is okay. There is no ‘right’ way to play.”

Shelly Storer’s shadow tracing set up for her children. (Courtesy photo from Shelly Storer)

For those thinking about relinquishing some of their screen time Gauthier has some suggestions. Either commit and go cold turkey or start with increments.  “Make a list of options of things you can do without the screen. You can’t remove a habit without having anything to replace it,” said Gauthier.