As I find myself in chaos among writing college applications, working on International Baccalaureate internal assessments and finding time to carve out for my personal life to spend time with family and friends, I often feel frustrated that there are not enough hours in a day.
Those thoughts began to change when I checked my phone to see that my daily average screen time was well over six hours. I was shocked to find that one-fourth of my day involved being on my phone – the vast majority of that time was spent on social media.
While the majority of our lives consists of Zoom meetings, electronically-submitted homework assignments, Netflix binges and social media scrolling instead of in-person socialization, I knew these habits had to change for the sake of my own sanity. So I did what many teens deem “unthinkable” and deleted TikTok.
In a pre-pandemic world, the average teen spent an average of seven hours and 22 minutes in front of a screen each day, according to a 2019 Pew Research study, including time spent watching TV, working on a computer and scrolling through social media.
Screen time has increased over 185% for many users since March, according to data collected by the Washington Post.
Upon deleting TikTok, I felt uber-productive because in my mind “social media was the problem” — not me. Sadly, that was not necessarily the case as I quickly found myself clinging to Instagram for hours of aimless and moderately depressing scrolling rather than being present and focusing on accomplishing tasks in front of me.
I am not alone in addressing this concern, as more than 50% of teens between the ages of 15 and 18 are worried that they spend too much time online, according to Pew Research. With that in mind, it is still important to cut myself some slack on occasion and consider these dire circumstances we are dealing with.
The solution to “doom scrolling,” the mindless scrolling through social media feeds, and combating the increase in eye-strain, anxiety, and lower energy levels as a result of excess screen time ultimately comes down to time management and goal setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rather than spending time watching the top trending videos on TikTok’s “For You Page” or deep diving through the Instagram profiles of Hollywood’s elite, I’m slowly beginning to foster healthier habits by trying new workout routines and reserve time late in the evening to spend on social media after homework is finished.
Although spending the majority of my time at home for the last eight months has given me lots more free time, paying extra close attention to how I utilize that time has been crucial for my productivity as I navigate my senior year.