Online Learning is Making Our Kids Sick, Doctors Reveal

Photo: (Photo : Photo: Andy Falconer / Unsplash)

COVID-19 came, schools closed, and so began the transition to online learning. Students missed important occasions, from birthdays and playdates to graduation and prom. But, more than that, they needed to develop new routines and adjust to online learning schedules-sometimes from a different time zone. But, how do these changes affect kids these days?

 Physical Activity Decreased Due to Online Learning

The time kids spend on online learning varies with each school, age group, among other factors. Online learning can take anywhere between an hour or two to 8 hours. During this time, there is less physical activity for kids. Even the walks to and from classes are something kids may miss. Student Jaiswal said, sitting in front of the laptop all day makes her feel extremely sluggish and lazy, Jhu Newsletter reported.

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Online Learning Causes Eye Problems for Kids

For years, doctors and parents advocated for lesser screen time for kids. But the transition to online learning has kids' screen time going up 6-8 hours, sometimes even more if you add leisure screen time. Dr. Dan Thuente of Grand Traverse Opthamology Clinic talked about the effects of increased screen time on kids:

  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye strain
  • Headaches
  • Eye pressure

These adverse effects of online learning revealed the eye specialist, is something that became more frequent. In light of this, The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommended the 20-20-20 rule. What is this?

For every 20 minutes, look away from your screen for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to look at a distance of at least 20 feet away to relax your eyes. Dr. Thuente also reminds parents to make sure their kids are not sitting too close to the screen. The general rule of thumb is, stay at least 24 inches or an arms-length away from your screen.

Do Kids Need Blue Light Glasses?

With the rise of online learning and working from home, so did the market of blue light glasses become more popular. However, eye specialists do not necessarily advise but do not go against blue light glasses. Dr. Thuente said there is no evidence to back up blue light glasses' claim that these actually help.

Dr. Thuente advised that kids limit their screen time when possible. Sleep is also something doctors advise parents to ensure their kids are getting their recommended 8-10 hours. Sometimes, eye strain and headaches can be caused by a lack of sleep alone.

Furthermore, the eye specialist reminded parents to encourage their kids to blink. When using the computer, especially with online learning, kids become too focused that they forget to blink. The average blink rate is said to decrease by as much as 50% when using an electronic device, 9and10news reported.

Routine eye exams are a must as kids transition to online learning. Small astigmatism is best treated early on to ensure whether or not kids will need glasses.

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Chiropractors Reveal Common Problems Due to Online Learning

Chiropractors have also seen a rise in complaints with back issues and sore necks since online learning started. Dr. Lea Piche' of the Piche' Family Chiropratic revealed an increase in students needing chiropractic services soon after starting online learning in the spring. She observed problems like:

  • Lower back pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Pain under the shoulder blades
  • Pain across the shoulders

At home and on the computer, kids are more likely to forget about posture. "The kids hunch over their sofa and do not sit right in front of their laptops. "Bad posture results in all sorts of issues that show up rather quickly," the chiropractor revealed.

Dr. Piche added that back and neck problems increased among students about eight weeks into online learning. High schoolers experienced pain more in late fall, so they needed a chiropractor.

The chiropractor shared tips for students, including routinely checking on their posture, especially when sitting in front of a laptop. Dr. Piche' also recommended the use of a yoga ball for kids. "If parents do not wait too long, the damage can still be undone. If not, online learning is really affecting the biomechanics of kids' necks.

Remote Learning Affects Kids Sleep

Dr. Laura Sterni, the Director of the Hopkins Pediatric Sleep Center, also revealed her concern about sleep disruption caused by online learning. The sleep doctor said that the increased screen time could have a potential negative impact on sleep.

Apart from altered sleep cycles, Jennifer Katzenstein, director of psychology and neuropsychology at Hopkins All Children's Hospital, said, "increased screen time including non-academic screen time is linked to a surge in depression, attention problems, and anxiety."

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