Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Karen C. Westervelt

Second Advisor

Dr. Jeremy Sibold

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Kasser


screen time, physical activity, anxiety, Honors, COVID-19, Pandemic


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique opportunity to study the effects of increased screen time on student mental health. Honors students were an ideal group to study due to perfectionism, academic achievement, and educational aspirations. Emerging research suggests that increased screen time increases anxiety, but never had there been such a marked increase in screen time. Purpose: The aim of this pilot study was to observe the relationships between anxiety, screen time, and physical activity in Honors students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A REDCap survey, consisting of the GAD-7 measure of anxiety, screen time questionnaire, physical activity questionnaire, and self-reported impact of the pandemic, was distributed to Honors students. Results: Anxiety and screen time increased during the pandemic, while physical activity did not significantly change. Eighty-point-nine percent of respondents met GAD-7 scoring guidelines for mild to severe anxiety and 71.56% self-reported experiencing more anxiety than before the pandemic. The average GAD-7 score for High Screen Time subjects was 4.20 points higher than Low Screen Time subjects (p = <.001). The average GAD-7 score for High Exercise subjects was 2.28 points lower than Low Exercise subjects (p = .008). Conclusion: Anxiety and screen time increased in Honors students during COVID-19. Increases in screen time were associated with increased anxiety in Honors students, while physical activity was associated with decreased anxiety. Universities should consider strategies to mitigate negative effects of increased screen time, including the use of physical activity.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, May 10, 2024