Mental Health Implications of Virtual Learning

covid virtutal learning
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How do you like this covid pandemic so far? OK, maybe we’re being a little bit facetious, but we wanted to make a point. It’s no fun and for many, it’s debilitating, and others, just plain tragic. In general, we all have suffered one way or another. 

With that said, one of the more ‘hidden’ factors is how it has affected our mental health. Some people have become depressed. Others found themselves getting into arguments and fights with their own family as they would stay stuck in their homes during the lockdown periods.

How Does Covid Affect Education? 

There is an ongoing debate over whether students should wear or not wear masks, especially our younger ones and there are currently studies are showing how telelearning is affecting our students. While virtual learning is a lot more comfortable and convenient for both students and parents, many believe it is not a viable solution in the long run. 

In this post, we take a closer look at the effects virtual learning has had and does have on the mental health of students during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Effects of Virtual Learning on the Mental Health of Students 

Teachers and students alike are having e a hard time adjusting to this huge change. It is especially difficult to deal with the change for people who already have preexisting mental health conditions. Moreover, the change can be particularly overwhelming for students. 

Imagine a child who used to spend 5-6 hours every day along with peers of the same age and teachers who are now expected to spend a similar amount of time in front of the screen. While virtual learning allows children to connect online, it is not the same as physically connecting with other human beings.

During physical learning, students learn several important traits, such as socializing. They form friendships and share fun memories with other children of the same age. Unfortunately, telelearning does not meet this basic human need.  

As a result, they miss out on the connection that’s critical for the cognitive development of young children. But missing this physical connection is not the only drawback of virtual learning. There is a lot more. Here are some of the reasons why telelearning is causing mental health effects among students of all grades. 

Virtual Learning Can Lead to Fatigue 

In the uncertain times amidst the pandemic, educational institutions expect students to take up learning sessions virtually. Moreover, they are expected to spend a similar amount of time that they used to spend at the physical facility. However, spending long hours on Zoom classes or video conferencing calls can lead to fatigue. In fact, there is a newly coined term for this type of fatigue that’s known as “Zoom Fatigue.

Since virtual classes can significantly reduce mobility as well and require you to constantly view yourself during video chats, it can lead to an increase in cognitive load. Zoom fatigue can affect people of all ages, however, it is usually difficult for younger children to process it hence, virtual learning leads to fatigue. Constant fatigue plants the seeds for stress and anxiety, especially among school-aged children. 

Virtual Learning is One of the Major Causes of Stress and Anxiety 

In a traditional physical school setup, students are expected to follow a specific schedule. They know at what time they are expected to wake up and go to bed. They also have specific school schedules that revolve around class time, homework time, and extracurricular activities. 

In times of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is heightened uncertainty and sticking to a schedule is a challenge. Since parents are also expected to work from home, there is a lack of structure in most households. Moreover, having a strict schedule is never the same as virtual learning. Lack of schedules and structure in life in general, along with the stress of virtual learning, is taking a toll on the mental health of students and their parents, which is leading to a rise in anxiety and stress for both students and their parents. 

As a result, the entire household is getting affected. Furthermore, it is particularly challenging for parents as they have to get more involved in school work and are expected to work from home at the same time. 

At the end of the day, virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is exhausting and stressful for the entire household. 

How to Take Care of Your Child’s Mental Health? 

While virtual learning has significant mental health effects, here are a few strategies that you can try to minimize the negative implications of virtual learning on your child’s mental health. 

Have a Designated Space for Learning 

Indeed your child is learning at home, but you can make it more structured by designating a space for learning at home. You can choose a room or a spot at home with fewer distractions so your child can better concentrate on learning. Moreover, you can also use the space as part of your work from a home arrangement where you can be more focused and productive. 

Establish a Regular Schedule 

It may be difficult to establish a regular schedule when everyone is at home. But it is still important to set a regular schedule. Make sure you set up a specific bedtime and stick to it. Similarly, there needs to be a regular time to wake up and start your day. Only when you establish a regular schedule, you will be able to plan your day better and end up being more productive. 

Encourage Healthy Habits 

One of the best ways to counter fatigue and stress is by encouraging healthy habits. Make sure you and your family are eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough nighttime sleep, and are involved inadequate physical activity. Despite the pandemic, you can still go for some indoor physical activities at home, which will also be a fun time for the entire family. When you encourage healthy habits, you will notice an improvement in the energy levels and overall physical and mental well-being of the entire family. 

Seeking Support  

The COVID-19 pandemic is indeed a great challenge not just for the students but for parents and teachers as well. In such times of crisis where the physical health and well-being of your child are a priority, virtual learning seems like a viable solution. However, it comes with challenges that can take a toll on your physical and mental well-being.

If you feel that you or your child needs support, do not hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. The uncertainty that we experience today is unheard of and it’s okay to feel the need for professional assistance. Talk to your therapist and find out more about how you can take care of your child’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Till then enjoy the virtual learning sessions, take care of your mental health and stay safe and healthy!