A number of students at maritime youth charity UKSA, reduced their screen time as part of a trial to ease social media induced anxiety. 

A group of UKSA students look at a phone

Almost 60% of those who took part in the trial reported an overall reduction in screen time across seven weeks.

UKSA launched the project earlier this year after statistics showing that many Generation Z students worry that they spend too much time on social media. 

The Isle-of-Wight based charity encouraged those taking part in the seven-week trial to increase the amount of non-screen based activities they did which in turn should boost socialising in person and therefore reduce anxiety caused by using social media. 

Clare Powell, education manager at UKSA, led the trial. She said: “This project was really valuable and although some of the students achieved a reduction and some remained at a similar level of screen time, the value of the project was evident by the response and changed behaviour, particularly in class time.

“Six of our staff team also took part to be fully involved in the project. Each week, the learners and staff were interested in the results and came up with new strategies to reduce screen time.”

A group of students take part in the UKSA screen time challenge

UKSA launched the trial in a bid to ease anxiety among its young students.

Some of the feedback from the students included:

  • “My time went down and that really surprised me, I didn’t think I could do it.”
  • “Doing this project helped me to focus in class and think more about going on my phone.”
  • “I cannot believe how high my starting time was!”
  • “I was really surprised to find out how much time I spent on TikTok and it really made me think about the time wasted.”
  • “To get my time down, I tried to do more outdoors, I really enjoyed this and now do it more.”

UKSA worked with the students to establish the times they typically spend more time on screens and offer alternative activities during these times with students sharing their screen data on a weekly basis with the UKSA team.

“We wanted to work with the students to help them individually identify the causes of the screen time, what alternatives might be available. Are they scrolling out of boredom rather than need? And how can we address that to create new, more healthy habits,” Clare said.

As a result of the trial, UKSA has updated its mental health strategy and included a new section on screen time so it now forms part of the mental health teaching to all students, which is delivered through the charity’s welfare team. 

To find out more about UKSA visit www.uksa.org