Is “Zoom Fatigue” real? With the long hours spent staring at a screen, frequent glitches due to audio issues or screen-sharing malfunctions, and an endless array of different links and assignments, it’s natural for people to feel drained, frustrated, or have an overwhelming desire to permanently delete the Zoom application from their devices. From migraines to feeling like they are being watched constantly, Lexington High School students have experienced countless persistent symptoms during this unusual school year.
For Remote Learning Academy students, remote school means being on Zoom at least five hours a day, every day. Including clubs, homework, and studying, this number can climb to ten hours a day of just school-related screen time. In contrast, the recommended amount of screen time for teens is two hours per day! Solutions such as wearing blue light lenses and practicing different eye movements feel helpful to some and like a gimmick to others. Lemon water for migraines? What about taking breaks to walk around the room? Then there are the neck rests, padded mouses, and standing desks… it’s almost like humans, especially teenagers, shouldn’t be staring at a screen all day to begin with.
For teachers, Zoom presents brand new technological issues. For those who are less tech-savvy, the improvisation required when things don’t go as planned can be stressful and confusing. There are many new platforms and technological features to adapt to, and unlike students, teachers do not have the option of turning their cameras off or staying muted to take a break.
At the same time, there are also benefits to remote schooling. Many RLA students like the flexible learning style. Personally, I find the longer lunch breaks helpful—it’s a great time to relax and pursue personal hobbies like running or having lunch with family. While hybrid allows for more time socializing, many hybrid students comment that the majority of time is still spent on Zoom, with the same experience as attending from home. The only difference is that they are sitting at a desk in Lexington High School with a mask on. Some teachers also allow for screen breaks and independent learning which can be done without Zoom. There are generous ten-minute breaks between classes, half-day Fridays, and there is overall less instruction time than usual: at first glance Zoom High School is a more relaxed version of a pre-pandemic LHS.
The most frustrating part of Zoom is the attempt at mimicking a classroom environment. While it can work very well in stimulating discussion, it can also be exhausting: it’s easy to feel like everyone is watching you, looking at your own face can be stressful, and it is more of an effort to appear interested due to lack of verbal cues. There are very few off-topic conversations and jokes. Scientists credit the lack of normal eye contact, the extra effort it takes to choose to open an assignment or unmute, and the “talking into space feeling” everyone gets as important factors. Overall, it can be harder to create a comfortable and mistake-free environment virtually.
However, despite the issues of Zoom and remote schooling, I can honestly say the benefits outweigh the negatives. It’s a good option for such a crazy year that offers flexibility in a time when we need it most.