Amid online classes, schools devise digital detox routine

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only upended the way we socialise or interact with each other, but has also altered the learning patterns of lakhs of students with online classes becoming the norm.

For the last nine months, students in private schools have been glued to their screens for hours on end where otherwise they would have been in a physical classroom interacting with their peers and teachers. The fallout is digital fatigue and eye strain.

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School managements are now devising ways to help students cope with digital fatigue from reorganising holiday schedules and limiting screen time to holding wellness sessions and asking parents to restrict their children’s personal screen time.

School principals have acknowledged the problem, with many saying students as well as teachers have been complaining of headache, burning eyes and sleeplessness. “Earlier, there was a lot of enthusiasm about online classes,” said Dakshayini Kanna, principal of Harvest International School.

Nooraine Fazal, founder-director of Inventure Academy, said they will shorten the summer holidays to about a month and instead give students a week’s holiday after every six to eight weeks of online classes.

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Hybrid learning

The school is currently following a hybrid learning model where both online and offline classes are held simultaneously.

However, offline classes are not mandatory given that the presence of new COVID-19 clusters in the city.

“Our school counsellors conduct sessions called ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ where students learn about the downside of being online continuously and are taught how to detox digitally,” Ms. Fazal said.

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“We also regularly conduct eye exercises, get students to meditate and take part in physical activities,” she said.

Sumanth Narayan, founder of Shanthinikethana School, said the school had introduced a ‘quiet time’ after every class. Students are asked to do simple breathing exercises and give their eyes a rest by staying away from the screen for a short while. “Our teachers also conduct games where they ask students to fetch items from their surroundings. We do not want them to lead a sedentary lifestyle and remain glued to their screens,” he said.

Other schools are limiting the number of hours of online classes.

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“We have also sent a circular to parents asking them to monitor the screen time of their students. We have asked them to restrict the use of gadgets for their personal work. We also conducted workshops for teachers and students to combat digital fatigue,” said Manila Carvalho, Principal, Delhi Public School, Bengaluru East.

Ms. Kanna of Harvest International said they have decided to give students three days off every month. “Even teachers have been told not to login online,” she said.

Mullahalli Suri, president of the parents’ association here, said there have been an increasing number of complaints from students about vision problems and lack of concentration.

“Initially there was a lot of enthusiasm for online classes, but now students are burnt out. I’m worried that it may lead to many children experiencing psychological problems,” he said.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional professor, Service for Healthy use of Technology (SHUT) clinic at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) said schools should encourage students to use apps to track their screen time.

“Parents and teachers, rather than urging kids to restrict screen time should encourage students to take part in physical activity and spend time with family and friends. Parents should set an example and restrict their screen time,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 3:29:58 PM |

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