“Zoom Fatigue” is the new normal

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Submitted by Riley Erben

Sophomore Riley Erben poses with the computer she uses for all her Google Meets classes. “I hate being on my computer all day because the classes are all back to back, meaning I have very little free time built into the regular school day. Then, at night I can’t really do stuff I like because I’m working on homework,” Erben said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging throughout the world, St. Paul Academy has decided to go online for all classes until Sept. 28, meaning students and faculty must rely solely on their computers to attend class. While online, students and teachers are subjected to staring at a screen all day, possibly causing several health issues that could negatively impact everyone.

“After sitting in the same place and looking at a computer screen for eight straight hours, I like to unwind by playing some video games. After that, I have to go on my computer for another couple of hours to do homework. By the end of the day, I have upwards of 12 hours of screen time split among my phone, computer, and TV. By the time I get in bed, my head is pounding, and my eyes are sore,” said sophomore Simon Assefa. By the end of the day, I have upwards of 12 hours of screen time split among my phone, computer, and TV. By the time I get in bed, my head is pounding, and my eyes are sore.

By the end of the day, I have upwards of 12 hours of screen time split among my phone, computer, and TV. By the time I get in bed, my head is pounding, and my eyes are sore.”

— sophomore Simon Assefa

According to Business Insider, too much screen time often leads to long-term vision problems, blurred vision, headaches, and eye strain. Typically, most students enjoy going on their phones to talk with friends, see the news for the day, or relax by playing video games or watching some TV after a long day of classes, but with online courses all day this year, that phone time is just added screen time. According to CNN, most American teenagers spend upwards of seven hours on different technological devices, and that’s not including time used for schoolwork.

Due to the distance learning schedule, it’s challenging to get breaks between classes for most students, making it difficult for students to stay off the screen for an extended period of time to restore their health. Additionally, there is only one 30 minute break time for lunch.
Junior Esther Allen said, “On a normal day, I usually have a terrible headache as soon as lunchtime, and then I need to get back on the screen for another 3 hours — and that’s not even counting all of my online homework.”

To help prevent these headaches, several techniques and inventions seem to be necessary for students plopped in front of their screen all day. Things like blue light glasses can help reduce the strain on people’s eyes and the headaches one may get from the screen and one great way to relieve the eyes of screens is to take breaks to rest the eyes before the next class. Another great way to relieve the “zoom fatigue” is to try and relax by reading a book, playing with a pet, or just doing anything that gets the eyes away from the screen.

All in all, with all of this screen time from online school, it is important that students recognize the possible negative impacts of excessive screen time and learn to adapt ways and techniques to prevent eye strain and headaches they might receive during distanced learning.