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Are online classes wearing children out? | India Today Insight

The pandemic has forced all classrooms to move online, be it for pre-primary, primary, secondary, senior or university-level education. As with anything, there are pros and cons to online learning too. So, while it keeps children and teachers safe in the midst of a pandemic, it also brings stress and exhaustion with it. Eight months into learning virtually, students are facing the brunt of a stressful medium. Aditya Sharma, a class 8 student from Mumbai, had to recently skip a week of online classes due to an eye infection caused by looking at a screen for almost six hours a day.

he changing times

“There have been some new learnings for everyone involved, such as knowing the importance of conceptual understanding rather than rote learning, being adept with technology and thinking of new ways of facilitating teaching,” says Neena Mathew, founder of Mind and Me, an innovative learning centre. The convenience level of online education, too, is greater. “Students can solve their doubts by sharing them with their peers on discussion boards and chats. And the online medium can adapt to different needs of learners to suit learning behaviours and preferences for visual, audio and dynamics, as these tools are available,” says Delhi-based psychologist Anuja Kapur.

The core problem

The role of online education has been crucial for the continuity of education, but the transition has its downsides as well—online fatigue, weariness and boredom from attending multiple classes a day, are some of the complaints coming from children. Long hours spent looking at screens, not just for studies but other recreational activities, is a key reason. “Children are complaining of difficulty concentrating, physical exhaustion, anxiety, irritability, headache and eye strain,” says Kapur, giving an example of a school-going boy who was brought to her for consultation after he complained of experiencing fatigue and anxiety every time he logged in for his classes.

With the screen time going up, socialising, developing children’s interpersonal skills and maintaining friendships have all taken a back seat. “Children are not going out, physical activity has gone down and that, combined with prolonged sitting and screen exposure, has led to mental exertion,” says Dr Ramani Ranjan, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.


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