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Tech Breaks Are Necessary, Even In A Pandemic

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

For many college students on campus this semester, a return to classes often involves webcams, video conferences, and numerous emails from professors. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone became reliant on technology for work, school and even for fun activities such as “virtual coffee breaks,” trivia nights and playing video games to pass the time in quarantine. As a result, technology has become an even more integral part of our daily lives. 

With this technology comes the constant need to check emails, messages, notifications coming from work, school, and other extracurriculars, and honestly, that’s a lot of work! It gets so overwhelming sometimes that you just want to leave it all behind for a while. I get it. For me personally, technology and extended screen time tend to make me tired and can lead to bad migraines. According to WebMD, others can also experience migraines on top of vision problems and eyestrain from their computer screens, also called Computer Vision Syndrome. 

From the health issues stated above to the monotony of working online, there are many benefits to taking a break from technology. In a time where most work and play is done online, a headache or health issues linked to hours of screen time is extremely dangerous. Taking a tech break can reduce the risk of eyestrain and migraines, which could leave more time to complete assignments and keep those grades up for the semester. 

Another benefit of taking a tech break is that it helps to keep you moving. With working online and the pandemic’s emphasis on “staying in place” at home, people are not physically moving around as much as they were before. According to a report by researchers at the University of California San Francisco, the number of steps people take daily has decreased since the COVID-19 quarantine started in March 2020.

Technology breaks can also stimulate your mind because they encourage you to do something new. Changing my surroundings, or at least getting some fresh air helps me stay inspired, creative and productive beyond the screen. The “stay in place” directive is still important during this pandemic, but it doesn’t hurt to go outside and move around occasionally— while socially distanced, and wearing masks when needed.

What is the best way to approach a tech break?

The first thing would be to check your calendar and see where you could schedule an ample amount of time for a break. It could be for a weekend, a week, maybe even 10 days if your schedule allows it. The next thing to check is what tasks you need to complete in the future. Prepare to complete these ahead of time so that nothing is left unfinished. This reduces the chances of needing to check emails and notifications— you’re on a break after all! It is also important to let people know that you are taking this break from technology so that they will not contact you during that time (unless it’s an emergency, of course). After that is taken care of, you should plan out how long your tech break is going to be. Will it be all at once? Or will you try to take tech breaks off and on throughout the day? Like quitting anything else, it is hard to drop everything all at once. I make sure to keep my phone handy in case anyone makes any emergency calls, but I power down my computer for good since it’s mainly where I work. 

Another step towards a successful tech break is figuring out what to spend time doing throughout the duration of the break. Something I would suggest is to research things to do, make a list of ideas, and print it out before you shut down your phone and your computer. Some ideas include a weekend camping trip (that’s easy to do here in West Virginia!), hiking, spending time in nature, catching up on sleep, writing, reading books, learning a new skill or working on that project you’ve been putting off to the side. If you still want to take pictures, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a real camera; those pictures usually come out better than the ones on your phone anyways.

The final tip for taking a tech break is to have fun with it. This is your time that you can spend on yourself. It does not necessarily have to be spent doing something productive or for a grade. You could use it to rest and work towards your personal growth. Resting is important for the sake of your wellbeing, and a tech break could be used to balance your lifestyle. 

This pandemic has been extremely chaotic for everyone, and our reliance on technology would be viewed as unhealthy any other time. I encourage a tech break for anyone who needs to escape the world of email notifications and lists of assignments that never seem to end. Get a breath of fresh air, explore your surroundings and live in the present moment. 

Sam is a junior at West Virginia University from Littlestown, PA. She majors in Environmental Engineering and minors in Spanish. She's usually found spending time outdoors in nature, and also loves trying different smoothie flavors.
Kasey is a senior at West Virginia University from Elkton, Maryland. She is majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Strategic Social Media, Sport Communications and Fashion Merchandising. She loves writing, being outdoors, listening to music and going to concerts. Most importantly, she is an avid Katy Perry fan. In the future, she hopes to do PR for a sports team.