No Time for Free Time

Why Phone App Time Limits are Harmful


Ananda Kalukin, Staff Writer

Jefferson is notorious for stories of all-nighters and sleep deprivation caused by the heavy workload. Since large amounts of study time are required for most courses, student’s free time is often very limited. Distractions such as phones, computers, and gaming consoles are often responsible for exacerbating the time requirements, since 45% of U.S. teens are online “almost constantly” according to the Pew Research Center (PRC).


So, parents who are concerned that their students are spending too much time texting or playing video games often think the best solution is to have student’s phone apps lock down whenever they have exceeded the screen time limit set for an app.  While this may seem like a logical way to prevent phone overuse, there are many issues with the way app time limits are used.


According to PRC, 81% of U.S. teens say that social media makes them feel more connected to their friends. Parents often install harsh time restrictions on apps like Facebook Messenger, believing the apps cause students to spend less time studying. However, this reduces student’s socialisation time and separates them from their friends. This is serious because it contributes to the growing isolation across the U.S.


Additionally, Jefferson students need an online communication medium to complete schoolwork. IBET groups use apps like Messenger and iMessage to discuss research and write papers. When students do not have access to the messaging app their group is using, they may be unable to contribute to assignments. Another advantage social media provides: if students are confused about directions for a difficult assignment, help is a click away.


Even if students are not using their phone for studying or schoolwork, they may be doing something as important. For many teens, phones are a venue to “destress” – evidence shows that phone activities such as gaming reduce people’s stress. According to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey, 42% of American teens believe that they are not doing enough to manage stress. Gaming and other entertainment-related phone apps provide an outlet for students to release the stress they build up during the school day.


Finally, students need to learn how to manage time on their own. After high school, self-time management is a necessary skill, and the best time to prepare is in high school when overusing a phone is less serious. Even if grades suffer a bit, allowing students to manage their own time provides a valuable lesson down the road.