Submitted Photo: Maylee O'Brien
For the majority of the school year, from Monday through Friday, sophomore Eliana Jin’s everyday routine involved her waking up at 6:20 a.m., going to school and arriving home at 3:53 p.m., occasionally staying after school for a club meeting. After coming back, she’ll go straight to her computer, pulling up a video from YouTube or a subreddit post from Reddit, promising herself that she’ll start on her homework soon. Once she’s done with her “break,” she starts working on her homework at 7:50 p.m. and ends at 12:10 a.m., sometimes staying up further until 1 or 2 a.m.
But in the past month, Jin’s schedule has changed.
Due to the emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Americans to practice social distancing and self-quarantine themselves. As the situation continued to progress both globally and in Indiana, Superintendent Michael Beresford announced on March 12 that Carmel Clay school buildings would close and begin e-learning on March 16 to resume the second semester. On March 23, Gov. Eric Holcomb officially ordered Hoosiers to isolate and self-quarantine themselves, with the exception of participating in activities deemed essential. On April 2, Holcomb announced all Indiana K-12 schools, including this school, would only engage in e-learning activities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
Now, Jin’s everyday routine consists of waking up around 10 a.m., watching YouTube videos, working on some of her assignments for class, playing a variety of mobile games and then sleeping around 1 to 2 a.m.
The Internet is My Friend
According to Jin, spending her time on the Internet has become a habit that she can’t easily break, and it is become easier for her to procrastinate because of it.
“Being on the Internet is a wonderful way to kill boredom, but (it’s) also a horrible distractor, especially in quarantine and e-learning,” Jin said.
Like Jin, freshman Inia Narayanan said she finds herself to become easily sidetracked from her assignments for school.
“Since this is ‘online learning,’ I’m using the Internet for the majority of my work (but) when I have several tabs open, I tend to get distracted,” Narayanan said.
Narayanan said she spends most of her time on the Internet watching TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“I like to take walks around the neighborhood but normally stick to staying in my room, watching TV shows for sometimes hours on end,” Narayanan said.
Given the current circumstances that all CHS students are in, psychology teacher Sandy Gardner said, via email, that becoming or feeling stressed is a natural response to a “taxing” situation like this one.
Gardner said, “Stress is a negative emotional state that is in response to taxing events or is beyond a person’s resources or ability to cope. I think the coronavirus definitely fits into this category as a major stressor. Along with this is the idea that by being at home, everyone will experience more daily hassles and stressors which cumulatively will result in high levels of stress.”
This might lead many to look for stress relievers to combat these high levels of stress. According to Jin, she said she uses the Internet to relieve her stress from the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
“I look toward the Internet as a stress reliever through this time,” Jin said. “Whenever I need a break from doing work, I usually go online to watch videos or annoy those around me.”
Narayanan said she agreed with Jin.
“Scrolling throughout the Internet tends to take my mind off of things,” Narayanan said. “This works especially when I’m listening to music and talking with friends.”
Work, Work, Work
Unlike Jin and Narayanan, junior Maylee O’Brien is passing the time by participating in activities that help her focus more on herself.
“I guess I’m either keeping myself busy or spending time with friends or family. I feel like my days mostly consist of working on homework, practicing (my) instruments, texting friends and spending time with my parents,” O’Brien said. “It’s surprising how easily those four things fill up the day.”
Similar to O’Brien, sophomore Aleen Zhao is developing more productive habits in order to let her partake in other activities that she wants to do.
“(During this time off from school), I am able to have more time to do things, so I become productive to finish things faster in order to have more time to enjoy myself and do things that I enjoy that I normally don’t have time to do,” Zhao said.
However, this has not always been the case for O’Brien and Zhao. According to O’Brien, she said she has only recently begun focusing on other activities not revolving around the Internet.
“I’d also say that I’m spending more time on my phone than I’d like to (but) I’m trying to work on replacing that time with reading or making friendship bracelets or exploring other crafty or creative things,” O’Brien said.
For Zhao, she said keeping a schedule to follow every day makes it feel similar to what an average day may look for her when school was in session.
“(I’m trying to keep a routine) because it feels similar to when we had school but, I also want to take advantage of this time (off) to do better, prepare more for tests/exams and review/relearn topics that I had trouble with in the past,” Zhao said.
One reason, according to O’Brien, as to why she is motivated to become more productive is to be prepared academically and mentally for her future.
“I think (developing productive habits are) critical to success both now and in the future,” O’Brien said. “Since junior year is so important, obviously I want to try my best to do my best but also, once I’m living on my own in college and beyond and I’m solely responsible for where my life goes, I don’t want to also be worried about my time management and procrastination. I feel like it’ll be really helpful to make progress on those things now so I don’t have to worry about it as much later.”
Despite Jin’s current habits, she said she hopes that she can change them. As Jin explains, she said that she wants to accomplish more in her future.
“There is always stress at the back of my head when I’m avoiding the responsibilities that I have,” Jin said. “I have ambitions. I want to do things, but I’d rather not do them (now) because I think I have enough time, so I convince myself that it’ll be okay.”
According to Jin, she said she wants to change her habits by junior year as she understands that her current habits have an impact on her grades for school.
“When I am productive, I become happy, I guess,” Jin said. “(Once I am productive), I feel like I’m finally fixing myself from my ‘bad’ habits. Even though I have tried fixing it in the past, hopefully, by junior year, I’ll have changed as (my procrastination) has, kind of, ruined my grades.”
Additionally, Jin said she is starting to stick to a schedule to help change her habits.
“I made a schedule for me to follow, even if it was at 1 a.m.,” Jin said. “I am really going to try to get myself in line.”
For Narayanan, she said she wasn’t too worried about how her current habits will impact her later on once school started again.
“I feel in the long run (our extra time off from school) is going to hinder our learning and ultimately show up in our grades,” Narayanan said. “From what I’ve seen, a lot of us (students) are slacking off on their work (but for me, not really,) since I also study out of school which keeps me busy for the most part.”
According to Gardner, she said that during a student’s day, students should find a balance between being productive and relaxing.
“It is definitely better to vary one’s day (of productivity and relaxation) and to not consume yourself with social media which has shown to have negative effects on mental health,” Gardner said.
Narayanan said she agreed with Gardner.
Narayanan said, “Distractions are good but spending too much time in front of the screen can also be harmful.”
Regardless of Jin’s commitment to sticking to her new schedule, she said she’ll still turn to the Internet whenever she wants to do something else.
Jin said, “The Internet is a nice thing, but certainly has some drawbacks. But when the world is burning and you’re stuck at home, it is nice to have something to turn to.”