We used to worry about whether kids were having too much recreational screen time, but these days parents aren’t as worried when the kids ask to watch Netflix, but we are worried when they don’t want to log onto Zoom.
Educational screen time and virtual playdates are burning kids out—so if you need to turn the computer off and let your kids disconnect today, don’t feel bad, mama.
Zoom fatigue is real
Experts say it’s understandable that kids are just “over Zoom” as the Huffington Post put it. Just like adults, kids are feeling what experts are calling Zoom fatigue. It’s a real phenomenon that experts like Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead who studies sustainable learning told the BBC.
“The video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily,” he explains. “What I’m finding is, we’re all exhausted; It doesn’t matter whether they are introverts or extroverts. We are experiencing the same disruption of the familiar context during the pandemic.”
Whether you’re an adult connecting with colleagues virtually or a kid seeing classmates and friends through little squares on a screen, you’re susceptible to Zoom fatigue.
Give kids the space to be sad
If your kid just cannot Zoom today, that’s understandable, and so is the sadness they are feeling. As education reporter Nick Morrison writes for Forbes, children “are likely to have feelings of despair, fear and helplessness” right now, and parents need to be aware of this loss.
Nermeen Dashoush, an assistant professor of early childhood education at Boston University and chief curriculum officer at MarcoPolo Learning tells the Huffington Post that parents should resist the urge to rescue kids from these feelings. “I do think that sometimes as parents we try too much to try and make things better for our kids,” says Dashoush. “A lot of research says, though, that what really helps is trying to help kids identify their feelings.”
Skip the Zoom chat if you need to
Giving your kiddo the space to feel their feelings might mean taking a day off from the Zoom chats and letting them express themselves in another way. Experts actually recommend frequent Zoom breaks for adults, and if adults need a break so do kids. This digital world is exhausting.
Libby Sander, PhD, is a mom of two and an assistant professor of Organizational Behaviour at Australia’s Bond University. Along with her colleague Oliver Bauman, an assistant professor in Bond’s School of Psychology, Sander outlined why Zoom is so exhausting in a piece for The Conversation.
“Our brains can only do so many things consciously at once, because we have limited working memory. In contrast, we can process much more information unconsciously, as we do with body language,” Sander and Bauman write. “Meeting online increases our cognitive load because several of its features take up a lot of conscious capacity.”
Bottom line: Zoom is exhausting, even if it’s just being used for a “playdate” and overdoing video calls may not actually be helpful for kids who are missing their pals.
So if you’re finding your child has back-to-back video calls during the day, it’s worth working with their teachers to create a schedule that allows for more breaks.