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Originally published on April 19. 2020. Updated on July 30, 2022.
A year or two ago, we were suddenly thrust into the all online learning situation. Now, most of us have the option of in-class learning. However, more people have availed themselves of the option for homeschooling, which may involve an increased use of the computer. As much as today’s kids seem amenable to the online learning experience, they also may run into their share of challenges. Here’s how to navigate through that, keep kids learning, and retain your sanity in the process.
The Pros to Online Learning
On the plus side, like all of us, kids really take to the computers. They generally do not seem to mind logging in and in fact appear enjoy typing, sending text messages, as well as creating and watching videos online. Of course, there are exceptions. But generally, the computer is seen as a positive thing by most students. This makes e-learning at home much easier to adapt to than would otherwise be the case.
And The Cons…
The negative aspect of this is that it is known that computers are highly addicting. As much as your child likely enjoys computer math games and getting through questions and answers online, he or she is likely to become anxious, scattered, and even emotional. Too much time spent seated in one spot, looking at a computer screen can do that.
There is frustration, also, in making sure technology is functioning correctly and that the student is able to follow links and type in passwords. Getting to the correct location of their classes or assignments can also increase anxiety, both in students and in parents. When you’re already short on patience and trying to complete your own work, this struggle can be confounding.
Yet another source of difficulty comes from the student having to ask for help. This leads to hovering parents who may want to take over control of the mouse, or vice versa. Two people sharing a computer trying to troubleshoot a technical problem often leads to higher levels of tension and frustration.
Ways to Adapt
Below is a list of simple tips to remember as you and your family adapt to this new learning format.
Take a break every 35 minutes or so.
If your child is involved in an online meeting for school, you may not be able to follow this closely. In that case, give your children a break as soon as the opportunity arises. A good idea would be to let kids stand up, stretch, and move around a bit after logging off post-meeting.
Look for good ergonomics.
We can’t always control how our children prefer to sit at their iPads, laptops, or desktop computers. Being stuck in the house all day with nothing but virtual friends and assignments might have your child searching for the ideal spot and position during screen time. However, it’s a good idea for each child to have his or her own small desk or table. That way, your child can sit as comfortably as possible while typing and looking at the screen. Your children are growing at a rapid pace. For this reason, it’s important to maintain the correct posture when possible.
Rest the eyes.
Studies suggest that more children are developing myopia or nearsightedness as a result of increased amounts of time spent indoors. Increased screen time can be a significant factor in staying inside. Additionally, your child may experience headaches, blurred vision, and burning or tearing eyes due to too much computer use. It’s important to get up for breaks, rest the eyes, and focus on objects at different distances, during the day during computer work.
Make time for exercise.
Another side effect of too much time spent seated at a computer is muscle atrophy. Poor posture, low muscle tone, and lack of blood flow to the extremities are all side effects of seating at a computer all day. We already see this in office workers. With children becoming more attached to computers for schoolwork, it’s now becoming a problem for them as well. You’ll be doing your kids a tremendous favor by providing them an exercise outlet. This gets them away from the screen, moving their bodies, and burning off energy.
Emotional regulation, too, can become an issue for pent-up kids who spend their days attached to computers, phones, and video games. Again, the best thing you can give your kids to help survive the e-learning environment is opportunities to get outside, run, play, and move. This will also help them and channel stress in a positive way. If it’s raining, set up an indoor play space. Include exercise balls, light free weights, hula hoops, and other fun activities to get them moving.
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