Online education, spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic, can have a long-term impact on a child’s mental health. Here’s how to extend a helping hand.
A heap of assignments, back-to-back classes, online competitions and the need to spend some time alone — there’s so much to do and so little time! Well, such is the life of students these days, where they are under the constant pressure of something or the other, posed by online education.
The exposure children receive during school years, the experiences they have with peers, teachers and the activities they get involved in, shape their personality and prepare them for their future life. With such a major shift in the mode of education, children have lost the opportunity to go to school and have a normal life, where they get to meet their friends.
Education is not just about classroom learning; it is learning from anything and everything, be it classroom lectures, being involved in co-curricular activities, learning life skills or even having discussions with peers. Children learn through all sorts of stimuli around, and sadly because of Covid-19, the situation has changed depriving them of the most basic of experiences.
According to a study, as compared to pre-Covid times, children now have a sedentary, anxious, and depressed lifestyle. Additionally, this time has also led to increased phone usage and decreased physical activity.
Some tell-tale signs that suggest that children’s mental health is being impacted by online education, are as follows:
- Irritability and sudden mood changes
- low mood
- Emotional outbursts in the form of anger and crying spells
- Involvement in high-risk behavior like gambling and porn addiction
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- social isolation
- Feeling demotivated
- Restlessness and anxiety
The new rush of not going to school and sitting comfortably in pajamas must have been very exciting to start with, but getting used to the new “normal” where children are supposed to attend online classes and work on assignments and other homework throughout the day has been hard.
From not having a routine anymore, to not meeting any of their friends when the world around is crumbling because of a deadly virus hasn’t been anything but traumatic for children.
Some of the difficulties children have been facing since switching to online education are:
Deterioration in physical and mental health
There’s a very strong correlation between physical and mental health. With the shift to online mode, children are facing a lot of concerns like disruption in routine, no physical exercise, problem in body posture etc. Not getting any physical exercise also has a grave impact on the mental health of children, as they are facing social isolation and seeing so much trauma around
The new excitement of not rushing to schools, lying in pajamas and attending classes was soon replaced with boredom of attending classes online. It has led to mental fatigue and burnout, because of sitting in front of a screen for long.
Social learning is a very important part of education and children learn a lot through the same. Collaborative learning, learning through doing and peer learning play a very important role in not just helping children learn new skills but also building their self-esteem and image. In the absence of such close friendships and not being able to find safety in such relationships, children are now facing self-esteem issues.
These are just some of the challenges children are facing as a result of online teaching. Humans are a resilient species and learn to adapt and evolve. When we as a nation have been through such a tough time and found a way out of it, we can definitely learn to make online learning fun.
Here are some things that children can do to make the most of this phase of online education:
- Maintain a Routine: Even though going out and following their previous lifestyle is compromised, children can seek stability by maintaining a routine. Having a fixed time of waking up and going back to sleep, and getting ready for online classes just like they would for school, and taking breaks in between can help break the monotony.
- Create a study corner: Having a physical space separately can help children avoid distractions. Make this space as comfortable as possible by having comfortable furniture, good lighting and all the resources required in an organized way. It will not just help work without distractions, but also provide them with a comfortable and safe space designed by you with love.
- Healthy diet and sound sleep: It’s easier said than done in today’s era to have a healthy diet when we have so many options of fast food available, which also act as our “comfort food”. Instant gratification is what we all seek which makes us feel good in the moment but has a terrible effect on our health in the long term. So, try to make your children have a balanced diet, and help them exercise and sleep well.
Children are very resilient and can easily cope with the changes around them. But with so many things changing, it is crucial to take care of our mental health and well-being, while understanding how things around impact it, such as online education. Even when it’s posing as a challenge in today’s time, children can very well learn to enjoy the comforts of online world and grow!