Students Need Off-Screen Hobbies Now More than Ever

Nadia Suben, Op-Ed Page Director

The Covid-19 pandemic has radically altered the way today’s students learn. According to Forbes, students’ screen time has surged by as much as 50-60% since the start of the pandemic. The detrimental effects of such excessive technology use are well-documented. According to The Guardian, worsening eyesight and increased difficulty sleeping are just a few of the harms prolonged screen time can be linked to. And while Mamaroneck students used technology for school before the pandemic struck, they are now fully reliant on their devices to navigate their classes; spending hours upon hours a day on screens is now an academic requirement. This makes it more important than ever for students to find off-screen hobbies.

Naomi Azoulay (’23) says she has expanded on a number of her hobbies amidst the pandemic, and that doing so has revealed some pertinent lessons about technology use. 

“I’ve been getting more into reading and sudoku. These hobbies have helped me realize how we desperately need to get away from screens after a long day of schoolwork,” Azoulay explains. “I think a break from the screen…can be…just as important as getting your work done.” 

Finding moments to step away from screens has always been crucial. But now, students are spending anywhere from three to six hours on screen per day for synchronous class alone. Having off-screen hobbies can provide a helpful excuse to take a break from staring at devices. In Azoulay’s case, reading and doing sudoku means that she has a reason to take a break from working, and as a result, a break from screens.

Not only do off-screen hobbies provide reasons to take breaks from some of the strain of online schoolwork, they also optimize the critical time students get to unwind during the day. 

“[Quarantine] gave me a lot of time to expand on my…hobbies. I [got] better at instruments and [had] more time to practice,” says sophomore Will Tucker. “They’ve been helpful because they give me something to do besides sitting around all day.” 

Hobbies can fill students’ rare moments of rest with a sense of meaning and direction, which can be difficult to find in sometimes-monotonous pandemic life. Having something fun and relaxing to do that breaks up the stress of juggling classes during a global health crisis is extraordinarily helpful. 

Between skyrocketing screen time, navigating an entirely new way of going to school, and coping with a pandemic, students are currently confronting a number of unprecedented challenges. It is necessary for today’s youth to find some sort of reprieve from the strain that these challenges can place on them.  Finding off-screen hobbies has never been so important.