Homework Takes a Toll on Students’ Physical & Mental Health


Leona Breitenstein, Contributing Writer

Teachers expect students to spend approximately 1-2 hours per night on homework; however, they typically spend anywhere from 2-6 hours. Since SHS teachers aren’t aware of their colleagues’ assignment schedules, there are many times when students have a heavy workload with multiple projects or tests in every class. There are periods in the school year–before AP exams, school vacations, midterms, or finals–when work piles up. The major question is, how is the immense amount of homework affecting students’ mental health?

When homework accumulates, students often miss free time or moments to relax, go outside, or spend time with friends and family. It can be especially difficult for students with outside stressors, including perfectionism or ADHD: completing homework will take longer for these individuals. Internal feelings of not being able to stop working, even if the assignment is done well, can prolong the time spent on work outside of school. 

Sometimes students feel as though teachers are unaware of the health effects of assigning multiple work hours outside of school, making students feel they aren’t valued. Teenagers go to school for seven hours, then straight to sports practice or work, sometimes not getting home until 8:00 or 9:00 PM–when they still have hours of homework to complete before bedtime. 

SHS Adjustment Counselor Jennifer Lopes explained how something has to “give” when students have increased homework assignments. A solid night’s sleep, vital for teenagers’ brains and rapidly growing bodies, is usually sacrificed. Sleep deprivation, combined with the culture of academic stress, puts extra pressure on students, motivating them to do more and more–but sometimes, they do too much. According to joon.com, around 65% of students in high school are diagnosed with severe anxiety, and 52% are diagnosed with depression, a leading cause of schoolwork stress.

Many pediatricians nationwide have tried to explain homework’s physical health hazards. Doctors at Stanford Medicine noted health issues ranging from headaches, sleep deprivation, weight loss or gain, and stomach issues. Through their research, these doctors originally thought homework was “inherently good,” but after thorough findings, they discovered how homework could be counterproductive. 

SHS Spanish teacher Christina Murray believes in limiting homework for her students. She recognizes that students have a lot going on in their lives; therefore, they aren’t completing homework assignments thoughtfully. Murray understands how students’ mental health suffers, so when she doesn’t assign homework, it is one less thing for them to worry about. Murray said as long as her students work hard in school, they can cover all the necessary material during class time. Murray has been working at SHS for 22 years, and over this time, she realized how assigning homework isn’t as beneficial as she once thought. She noticed students copying down other students’ answers, which impacted their ability to improve as foreign language speakers. 

Other teachers may see the value in homework. Still, with the development of ChatGPT, students may be even more tempted to cut corners, limiting the learning benefits of homework. SPS District Tech Director Richard Long believes some advantages exist by using new technologies; however, plagiarism and cheating can stunt academic growth.

With students’ access to artificial intelligence, teachers must adjust their curriculum and allow students to complete more work in class. In addition, there needs to be more discussion about reducing stress and improving students’ work ethic and academic focus. Although homework can be controversial, teachers and high school administrators should prioritize students’ health.