How many times do you check Facebook while studying?
According to Jesse Suh, clinical psychologist and professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, you should be counting.
“There are now software or apps that count the minutes or time you are on these devices, and one of the things that I would recommend to college students and high school students is that they try to monitor how much they use it,” Suh said.
He added that once students determine how much time they spend using media, they can see whether or not it’s interfering with other aspects of life, such as spending time with friends or reading a book.
“They need to find a balancing line to ensure that they don’t surf the internet or play games so much that they’re forgetting about other things,” Suh said.
However, according to Suh there is no consensus in the scientific community about how much time spent on social media is too much
“There is a lot of interest in how [the] overuse of these technologies [is] impacting our behavior, our emotions and even our brain functioning,” he said. “It’s is too early to have a definitive conclusion right now to say that certain screen use would impact us in certain ways,” Suh said.
Many students and professors at Penn have seen the ways that increased social media use impacts them and have tried to make a change.
Some professors have begun to eliminate computer use from their classrooms. “My course is structured [so] that it’s an ongoing conversation and like any conversation, it requires all parties to be totally present mentally,” marketing professor Cassie Mogilner said.
“Even if people try to control their temptations to quickly check their email or Facebook or whatever it is, they are likely to give in to temptation at some point. It pulls you out of the conversation,” she said.
Timothy Corrigan, professor of English and cinema studies, has a similar policy. “We all know when people have their laptops up that they’re really not just taking notes,” he said. “It’s just simply a fact that when somebody is on their computer, they’re completely outside that conversation and dialogue and that’s a real problem.”
Students have also started taking notice of their media usage and have tried to stop using their devices that aid procrastination.
“The feeling that we need a break from studying or from class is an okay feeling and is to be expected, but the challenge becomes how do you take that break,” College junior Aaron Wilson said.
Wilson makes a conscious effort to disconnect while studying and sets time limits for when he is allowed to take breaks. He said that it’s hard for him to moderate his social media use unless he gives himself a set amount of time to focus and a set amount of time to study.
“We’ve become really lazy by saying that that break will automatically be Facebook and Twitter instead of talking a walk to the window or even making a phone call,” Wilson said.
Miranda May, an Engineering and Wharton junior, has a similar method for studying. “When I study, I put on timers to see how long I can go without checking anything. I like the idea that when I’m studying, I’m actually studying and when I’m taking a break, I’m taking a break,” she said.