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  • Writer's pictureDavid Brake

What do Social Media and the Microwave Have in Common?

Updated: Apr 3

According to a 2023 Gallup survey, 51 percent of U.S. teenagers spend at least four hours per day on social media. The percentage actually rises from 4.1 hours per day for 13-year-olds to 5.8 hours for 17-year-olds. (Girls, on average, spend nearly an hour more per day on social media than do boys.)

Now, consider this. Based on a study done by the Organisation for Economic, Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average school day for U.S. students is 6.64 hours with total instructional time constituting about 62 percent. That works out to about 4.1 hours per day of actual classroom instruction. Interesting coincidence.

Could this really mean that the majority of students in the U.S. are spending as much time on social media as they are actively engaged in classroom learning? Some of the teachers I have talked with would argue that students are spending even less than 4.1 hours per day engaged in productive learning, and here are a few reasons why:

  • Mental health issues and disruptive student behavior in the classroom

  • Tardy students entering the classroom

  • Technology snafus (e.g. a student having difficulty logging in on their school-provided laptops or tablets)

  • Intercom announcements

You cannot prove that students spending less time on social media would increase time on task in the classroom. However, you might argue that more time spent on productive, fully engaged learning within and outside the walls of the classroom would decrease the amount of time students have to spend on social media. And because several studies have drawn a correlation between social media and mental health in children, teachers may gain some valuable time not having to deal with mental health and behavioral issues in class. Maybe.

Social media is a contributing factor to our problems in schools, but it’s here to stay, destined to be more ubiquitous than the microwave oven, if it’s not already. After all, this is the first generation of kids to grow up having not known a time in their lives without social media.

For Generation Z, social media is to them what the microwave oven was to my generation: an appliance that feeds your appetite much quicker than whatever our parents did before it existed. For my parents, the microwave was new technology. For my generation and those that followed, it was a standard appliance in almost every home.

That said, I’m pretty confident my generation never spent more time with the microwave than we did in class. It is a different world now.

Grandview has a playbook to help schools and their stakeholders collaboratively address the AI Revolution. (We also have some good recipes for healthy microwave meals.)*

* Just kidding about the recipes.


David Brake is the founder and CEO of The Grandview Group, a consulting firm that helps organizations engage their stakeholders and elevate impact. We would love to talk with you about how your organization is engaging stakeholders and elevating impact.

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