Rethinking screen time during COVID-19: Impact on sleep and academic performance in physiotherapy students

Article under review
Background: Technology has advanced significantly within the past decade and along with that has come the ability to use a variety of devices for academic purposes. While this can make accessing information much easier and allow for new organizational methods, it can also provide the opportunity for more distractions. Sleep is fundamental to optimal functioning including health and behaviour. This paper describes the interrelations between screen use, sleep and academic performance. 
Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore technology use and its impact on sleep and academics in physiotherapy students in this pandemic lockdown. How the increased screen media usage and the uncertainty of the situation has an impact on their academic performance. We examined how this distraction potential can play a role in studying experiences and academic performance. 
Methods: A representative sample of 150 Physiotherapy students were surveyed to quantify technology use, sleep pattern, mental health and academic performance. Results: 73.3% of the population agreed that screen time did affect their sleeping pattern in the lockdown, 84.7% of the students conveyed that they could not perform study related activities optimally as per their academic capacity. 56.7% of the population also agreed that excessive screen time hindered their ability to perform academically well. 
Results: A total number of 150 completed forms were analysed. This study sample is representative of students from all academic years from I B.P.Th, to IV B. P. Th. and interns and postgraduate students with majority being from the II B.P.Th. The age of the participants was 20.15 ± 1.46 years (mean ± SD) and 92% were females. Analysis showed significant increase in screen time use in the time of COVID-19 and its impact on academic performance, sleep, mental and general health in Physiotherapy students.
Conclusion: This study provides preliminary insights into excessive screen time and its association with academic performance in Physiotherapy students.

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