POST TIME: 2 August, 2021 06:03:58 PM
Distance learning and its effect on children
Many guardians do not understand the extent of the problem. They see their children are participating in online classes but behind it, something else is happening. Some guardians do understand the extent of the problem but can’t do anything because it went into far away to control.
Md. Sohrab Hossen

Distance learning and its effect on children

The coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) epidemic has impacted negatively on people's lives all across the world. Bangladesh ordered a national lockdown on March 26, 2020, under the name of a "public holiday," closing down all educational institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities, among others. However, for the education institutions, the lockdown remains the same today.

In this circumstance, technology has become necessary to enable students to access educational materials and interact. It influenced the use of technology and the prevalence of IA, especially among children. Distance learning has been a high priority in the educational system, with media like Zoom, Google  Meet,  and video communication technologies gaining huge appeal during these current days. Students are now learning from home through online courses.

Now the children who are staying at their house have a little scope to go out as the school has been closed for a long time. Losing their familiar lifestyle like going out and playing with friends and being separated from friends is increasing their stress. For coping with the situation the children may choose electronic devices as means of entertainment. It may lead the children to get addicted to mobile phones and the Internet.

Addiction susceptibility appears to be a more significant issue among children and adolescents than it is among adults. This age group has a natural inclination to utilize the Internet, making IA behavior easy to cultivate. They usually have flexible living patterns, unfettered Internet access, and are not controlled by their parents. Children and teenagers use the Internet for a variety of purposes, including studying, playing online games, shopping, watching movies, using social media, and chatting.

While appropriate Internet use is good, excessive and uncontrolled Internet use can lead to Internet addiction (IA), which is defined as a person's inability to regulate his or her use of the Internet. IA is a major public health issue across the world, particularly in Asia.

According to research conducted (in 2020), 684 or 33.37 percent of the children surveyed were categorized as problematic Internet users.  Internet addiction in children leads to compulsive internet use, failing attempts to regulate behavior, reduced connection with family and friends, withdrawal from studies, and extreme rage when the internet is turned off.

One of my sixth-grade students described how he became addicted to mobile phones and the internet. He stated he didn't have the opportunity to use a mobile phone while the school was open. Suddenly, the schools were closed because of the Covid-19 issue. After a few days later the school started taking online classes and that was the beginning of him becoming addicted to mobile phones and the internet.

First, he went to the play store to download the zoom application for participation in online classes. Then he saw some suggested games in the play store. He downloaded these out of curiosity that how these games are played. He didn’t like some of these games, deleted these, and again downloaded some new games. Now he is playing games like Free  Fire and  PUBG and spends most of the time of the day playing them.

Furthermore, even when he participates in online classes, he skips the class and plays games, watches youtube videos, chats with friends. He can’t concentrate in online classes. As there is not that much opportunity for a teacher to understand the mindset of a student like what is he doing, what is he thinking, does he concentrates in classes, it gives immense opportunity to the students to cheat the teacher by playing games, watching online videos even when they are in the class.

Many guardians do not understand the extent of the problem. They see their children are participating in online classes but behind it, something else is happening. Some guardians do understand the extent of the problem but can’t do anything because it went into far away to control.

We may not understand the extent of this problem now, but when the institutions will open the problem may bring huge consequences.  Simply then the students will not be given any mobile phones. They will be sent out to do physical classes. But the case would be different from before the Covid-19 crisis and now. They were not addicted to mobile phones and the internet at that time even they were not used to using mobile phones but now they are. So when the schools will be opened, if the guardians abstain their child from using mobile phones, the child may not be able to bear it. They may become psychologically ill, they may not be concentrated to study for a long time even it may lead to far more consequences like suicide.

According to health experts, sitting in front of a computer for long periods causes eye fatigue, impaired visual acuity, focus, and concentration,  as well as headaches, brain damage, sleep disturbances,  and neck and shoulder discomfort. Dryness and myopia are two symptoms that occur after spending long periods in front of a screen. Sitting for lengthy periods, particularly in front of touch devices, can alter posture, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, hand pain, and the development of early scoliosis.  Problems with the mind include failed attempts at behaviour control, alienation from family and friends, a desire to spend more time on the phone, computer, and the internet, and changes in sleep habits are all examples.

During the online classes, the guardians can monitor what their children are doing. Do they participate in online classes or doing something else. The guardians can monitor the class performance of their children and can ask the teacher about their class response. They must be well aware of the schedule of online classes as their children can’t misuse mobile phones. The teacher should also check the class responses of the student as well discuss the consequences of getting addicted to mobile phones and the internet.

Parents should spend more time with their children. The children should be given ultimate care even the children need to be helped to work on new plans if necessary. Children need to be kept active in reading, playing, drawing, gardening, and other activities to reduce their dependence on electronic devices. Parents also need to reduce spending time on laptops or smartphones, as children learn by watching adults.

Research has shown that when parents give their children appropriate love and guidance, they grow properly. The guardian should understand their children’s feelings and thoughts at different ages. Effective communication of the child with the parents is important at any time.  But the guardian shouldn't ask too many questions about feelings. He needs to be reassured so that he understands that his words will be taken seriously.
The writer is Research Assistant, Center for Advanced Social Research, Dhaka. Email: [email protected]