Colleges across the country have abruptly ditched in-person classes this past year and have switched to hybrid and online instruction. Students have had to adapt to this new way of learning by changing their routines and learning environments. As a result of these quick changes, students have had difficulty adjusting to the new normal, resulting in a worsening mental health.
The lack of in-person lectures and extended screen time has led to a lot of mental health issues across campus. There are several studies that show a direct connection between anxiety, depression, and increased screen time. With a majority of classes held solely online, students are missing out on all sorts of social interactions. Walking to class with friends, small talk with a professor before the beginning of class, and attending social events held at the University. These small interactions begin to add up and make a majority of students feel isolated.
In addition to missing out on social interactions, online learning has impacted mental health because of Zoom fatigue. This past year, most students have experienced the feeling of back to back classes. Spending hours on video calls can be extremely draining. There is limited motivation and focus when you’re spending hours staring at a screen.
Learning through a camera has made it easier than ever to lose focus during a lecture. There are endless distractions around us at all times, and it can be tough to resist the temptation to go on social media during a long lecture. Combine lack of focus with bad time management skills, and it can lead to missing assignments, deadlines, and important information about the lecture. Missing these important tasks can result in grades dropping drastically. For students that struggle with learning online, motivation to get work done is lower than ever before.
Additionally, unhealthy sleeping patterns have been an issue for students, especially in asynchronous classes. There is lack of structure to the day when the class is asynchronous. There is no reason to get out of bed and go to class, or even get online for it. If time is not managed properly, students can find themselves doing work into early hours of the morning and losing a good amount of sleep.
When students are learning in a classroom setting, there is more motivation to do well in the class, increased social interaction, open communication between students and the professor, and students are more likely to be alert and attentive throughout the lecture. Since most professors prohibit cell phone use during class, there are minimal distractions and students are more inclined to pay attention. The classroom is a more active and involved setting that allows students to learn efficiently and interact with their peers.
For a majority of students across the country, online classes have been a tough transition. Switching to remote learning has clearly impacted the mental health of many students. Being a student nowadays is difficult, and everyone is trying their best to overcome and adapt. It’s normal to feel anxious and stressed, especially during unprecedented times like these. However, if these feelings become overwhelming, please don’t be afraid to seek help or assistance.
PHOTO COURTESY of Anthony DePrimo