Students take up hobbies in order to escape from technology

Kate Feng (10) writes about her day in her journal, while sitting in her backyard. (Photo illustration courtesy of Feng.)

The streets of freshman Panav Vashishat’s neighborhood glisten as the sun sets. He watches the landscape’s lighting go from bright white to a dim orange as he rides his bike around the neighborhood, breathing in the freshness of the early evening wind and hearing the birds sing their final song in the remnants of the day. He feels present and grounded in the moment.

Vashishat bikes with his friends almost every other day and enjoys going outside to casually ride after a long day of Zoom classes. He always had a bike lying around, but never had the chance to use it due to extra curriculars before the pandemic. That is when he decided to start an active hobby at the start of shelter-in-place back in March 2020.

“[Biking] is a way for me to get away from my phone or laptop since nowadays our lives revolve around them,” Vashishat said.

According to Scientific American Magazine, pediatricians recommend screen time should be limited to two hours a day, and although that is not as simple during distance learning, Vashishat is still adamant about getting outside to get away from the ever-present screens.

While Vashishat uses biking as a way to take a break away from school work, sophomore Kate Feng took up journaling as a way to reflect on herself and how she is doing mentally and, occasionally, academically. Similar to Vashishat, she uses it as a way to take a mental break from technology in a productive way.

“One day I felt like I needed to get things out,” Feng said. “I wanted to write down my thoughts, but just away from technology, so I ended up journaling.”

In addition to being able to ease away from a screen, Feng said journaling has been instrumental in aiding her process of self discovery.

“At the end of the day, I’m able to reflect and since I’m a person that doesn’t talk a lot, having that outlet for my emotions is relieving,” she said. “I’m able to analyze more of my personality and the way I am.”

Through journaling, Feng has overcome criticisms about herself she thought she needed to change. It has become an activity she uses to wind down, helping her clear her thoughts before the new day.

“It helped me reflect and stop myself from comparing myself to others,” she said. “It helped me realize I shouldn’t live for others or have a fear of failure; [journaling] helped me get over a lot of that and clear my mind.”

Quarantine gave Feng time to overcome challenges in her mindset and after trying out many different activities, she stuck with journaling.

Like Feng, freshman Cecia Ruiz Venegas took up multiple hobbies during winter break. After taking inspiration from her friends, she has mainly focused on cooking and rollerblading. She loves spending time in the company of others, and rollerblading is one of the ways she does so.

“I like the [rollerblading] route because we have a specific way to go,” she said. “We go really fast and it’s always fun and exhilarating. It’s a fun and relaxing thing to do because we always joke around.”

Quarantine has made it challenging to spend time with loved ones, so when Ruiz Venegas cannot spend time with others due to pandemic restrictions, she likes to cook simple meals in the comfort of her own home.

“It’s a nice thing to do and I like to do it in an organized way,” Venegas said. “It’s stress relieving to make something out of what you enjoy doing and sharing it with everyone else.”