Virtual classes can lead to Zoom burnout for children still learning how to pay attention and process non-verbal cues and other skills. There can be a lot of anxiety and fear with online learning — and ways parents can help, experts say.
TORONTO — Online learning was a difficult choice for Donna Cheung and her husband. Their daughter Graysyn, an energetic and outgoing only child, was starting senior kindergarten at a new school — but with underlying health conditions in the family, her doctor recommended virtual classes instead.
Cheung’s daughter has been one of the lucky ones in many ways, she says, but even so, it hasn’t been easy.
“I do think that it’s hard when you have 28 kids in the class that are all five years old and under — it’s hard to stay focused,” Cheung told CTVNews.ca.
“They don’t always sit in their chairs, I don’t know how much they’re actively listening and learning, or absorbing any of it … Group activities, doing things together, problem solving, there’s none of that.”
The virtual setting can be a challenge even for adults; now, some parents worry online burnout is already starting to settle in for their kids.
Some of the signs may include irritability, outbursts, or lethargy, according to Jeboah Miranda, who runs a foundation that includes teaching female youth how to cope with hardships.
“There’s a noticeable change in behaviour from their day-to-day personality,” said Miranda.
What is exhausting about working on a video platform is that it requires more focus, according to experts. It is especially challenging for children because developmentally, they are at a stage where they are working on learning how to pay attention. Putting them in front of a screen requires them to exert even more effort to stay focused.
“The amount of stimulation they have to process is unappreciated,” said Miranda.
“They’re not taking breaks, the video’s open, they’re monitoring different things. All that requires a tremendous amount of energy that they didn’t have to apply before.”
LOSING WHAT CONNECTS US
Even more importantly for children is that video conferencing makes it harder to process non-verbal cues, like facial expressions, tone, pitch of voice, and body language, says…
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