Poll Finds West Students Spend Too Much Time on Screens


Image courtesy of Niek Verlaan from Pixabay.

According to a poll conducted by the Glen Bard, around 77% of West students believe they spend either a lot or too much time on their screens (phones, school iPads, and computers).

The poll, to which 96 students responded (the overwhelming majority of them being freshmen and seniors), was conducted during October 2022, and reveals that, as one student put it, having iPads for school is a “double[-]edged sword”.

“I do believe that iPads have been beneficial in supporting different ways to learn for students and providing them with tools to be more productive and creative,” said Mike Neberz, a school counselor. However, he also believes too much screen usage “is a problem for everyone.”

According to the poll, 80 students over the course of a week spent an average of 28.7 hours of screen time on their school iPads alone. That’s 17% of a week spent staring at a screen—and that number assumes that one is awake for the entirety of the week. Many students reported negative effects, in particular a loss of sleep and trouble focusing. One student even said they hated using the iPad, “[wishing] that we could use paper and writing more because it helps [them] to stay on task and remember things better.” However, many also reported positive effects, such as being connected to others through social media, aiding work, and providing entertainment.

“Content and usage are equally important in determining valuable screen time versus more ‘damaging’ practices,” said Mr. Neberz. Certainly, though many respondents to the poll did do schoolwork (in some cases quite a bit—one even requested that it be changed), the amount of their iPad time it took up varied—one student spent about 12 hours in a week on non-school related things, while another spent almost none at all.

This is not to say that iPads have been horrible for Glenbard West. Certainly, iPads have helped students centralize learning, be creative, and have given them freedom to explore the Internet—all positives. The bottom line is that it is important not to be sucked in. “Students have become so enmeshed in technology and its usage that they have trouble just being human beings,” said Mr. Neberz. “The social, emotional, and physical parts of being an adolescent are sacrificed (or significantly changed) for time spent in front of a screen.”