POST TIME: 18 June, 2021 06:07:49 PM
When is the end of 'zoom fatigue'?
Overwhelming stresses of the last 15 months have magnified long shimmering mental health struggles among students. Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers have been suffering from it for a long time but the global pandemic on top of us has added extra on the plate.
Shamima Afrin

When is the end of 'zoom fatigue'?

After the outbreak of covid-19 in March 2020, almost all educational institutions across the country have moved to online classes. The online class is a new normal for a large number of students and teachers. There is a huge gap in learning method between online and offline classes along with the mental pressure that a majority portion of students is facing.

Most of the educational institutions are using the zoom app for conducting online classes. Conducting online classes for a long time is tiring for both students and teachers. Also sitting in front of electronic devices for a long time is harmful. This physical and mental tiredness caused by virtual learning is named 'zoom fatigue'. Our brain is accustomed to the familiar method of learning when we are in offline classes. But in virtual learning, our brain works harder than offline learning. As a fact of learning method gaps, many students struggled so much to cope up with the system.

Overwhelming stresses of the last 15 months have magnified long shimmering mental health struggles among students. Unfortunately, a lot of teenagers have been suffering from it for a long time but the global pandemic on top of us has added extra on the plate. Students have got irregular assessments and examination deadlines within a short period. Students feel heightened anxiety about keeping up to date with assessments and they are experiencing tremendous uncertainty when it comes to learning goals.

Uncertainty affects the motivation of the students. Many young adults and adolescents have the anxiety of keeping their video camera on and speak in front of the class and they have the fear of getting judged. Lots of students face this anxiety during viva examinations through the zoom app. Anxiety and stress along with overuse of technology results in a short span of concentration, less social skill, decreased sense of time due to multi-tasking and mental overload is also responsible. Using technology on a large scale impacts sense of identity and interferes in daily activity and relationships with family and friends, disconnects people from nature, sports, and people.

The quality of Internet service is not the same across the country. Student's simultaneous participation largely depends on network conditions and sometimes students face trouble during online examinations because of network and technical problems. The online education system has pointed to an age-old problem of our education system that it is just academic and largely examination-centric. During pandemic food and financial issues, exposure to death and illness, prolonged isolation, and fear of contracting the virus have triggered traumatic stress and uncertainty.

Many students have shown irritability, emotional outburst, acting hopeless, difficulty retaining new information and these have resulted in demotivation to study.

Teachers have faced problems in converting offline classes into online classes. They faced huge stress of remaking their classes into effective digital forms. Elderly teachers have experienced the most difficult time in teaching. In zoom classes, spontaneous participation of students is non-existing sometimes that demotivates educators too.

The rate of Internet addiction in Asians is 38% and the rate of anxiety and depression in young adults has increased 9% than the previous year. Hospitals have reported an alarming increase in attempted and completed suicides in youth. But relatively few teachers have been properly trained to spot the signs of trauma, anxiety, stress and appropriately respond to them. Educational institutions should develop a framework for monitoring students' mental health and assist. There is a need to deal with mental health issues, there is also anxiety about coming to the hospital to get help. Economic disparities in our society are also the main factor in who gets proper mental health support.

The online education system is for preventing session loss and to support students in completing their courses in due time. Few students are thriving in online classes and have become an independent learner. Online classes will have a long impact on students. But what students are lacking is practical knowledge and the overall covid situation has made it impossible. Many medical colleges in European countries are conducting their theoretical classes online but practical classes offline by dividing students into small groups with appropriate precautions. We also need such thoughtful decisions and its application from our authority rather than small deadlines of just online assessments and examinations. It is hoped that vaccination will soon help us to get over these online classes. All we wish is to get back to normal days and to get over this 'zoom fatigue'.

The writer is an MBBS student at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, Dhaka.