As Delta Variant cases spike on Oahu, students at UH Manoa enter yet another socially distant fall semester; for many students, that means hours daily spent behind a computer screen attending Zoom lectures and many more spent chatting online to compensate for lost social opportunities. In a poll given to a small sample of 27 UH Manoa students, more than half reported spending 9 or more hours online daily since the pandemic. To put that into perspective, if an individual gets 8 hours of sleep in a night, then spends 9 hours online, that is more than 50% of their waking hours spent online! One thing is clear: college culture is entering a new digital age, and at least for now, as long as COVID-19 is still mutating into every letter in the Greek alphabet, this new cybernated way of life is here to stay.
In an era where the internet is central to everything we do, it is more important now than ever to take a ROUTINE break from the screens.
Now that we are officially grown-ups in college, our parents are not always around to tell us when to lay off the internet, so we must have enough discipline to make that call for ourselves. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to “unplug” when no one is forcing you, especially if you’re used to being online 24/7. Internet addiction is a REAL thing, after all; but the first step to conquering any addiction is to admit you have a problem. Once you take an objective and honest look at your internet use you will become more motivated to change your habits.
It helps to remember what a toll internet use can have on your body and your mind. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to depression, anxiety, and a myriad of other health problems such as cardiovascular diseases that may shorten your lifespan. Staring at a screen for long periods can cause headaches, eye strain, blurred vision, and it can even disrupt your internal clock leading to insomnia.
So what can you do? It is a good idea to get up and stretch your legs for two minutes after every 30 minutes of sitting at your desk, or at least in between zoom meet-ups. Try not to use your phone during this time: instead, get a glass of water, or look out your window. Take those few minutes to become grounded and mindful. Consider your goals. Ask yourself what you are most grateful for, and take some time to reflect on those things. Most importantly, try to get out and touch some grass when you have the time. There’s a world out there beyond the pixels, and it is real.