Kids are affected by remote learning more than you think, here’s how


Covid-19 hit and the whole world went indoors. Under these circumstances, it was impossible to have educational institutions continue teaching students in an onsite setting. Teachers and parents had to figure out how they could continue to educate their children in quarantine. Therefore, it was decided that students would resume studying remotely through online applications such as Zoom, Google Classroom, Skype, etc.

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The Effects of Remote Learning on Kids

Kids who had parents readily available with them also struggled with keeping up with their academics. With kids having to spend hours back-to-back glued to their monitors, it’s not surprising that people raised concerns (and rightfully so!). But new research shows that the effects of remote learning on kids are even more drastic than we imagined them to be. 

Before we get to the effects of remote learning let’s discuss the differences between remote and traditional learning and the effectiveness of remote learning.

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Remote Learning vs. Traditional Learning

Traditional Onsite Learning

  • Happens in a face-to-face classroom setting
  • Classroom setting based
  • Verbal + nonverbal communication 
  • More rigid schedule
  • Web access is not required (but can be helpful)

Remote Learning

  • A form of distance learning (can be conducted any place at any time)
  • Computer network based
  • Only verbal communication
  • More flexible scheduling
  • Web access required

Both forms of education have their own pros and cons. Right now we’ll only be discussing the remote form of learning. 

Disparities of resources affect their academics 

Due to disparities of resources among students from different backgrounds, classes, and areas, they face obstacles in availing classes. Not all kids have access to their own PCs/laptops and some households have only one singular device which they share amongst multiple kids.

Moreover, not all households have a stable internet connection, due to fluctuating connections they can miss out on important lectures and have difficulty in submitting their assignments/classwork. 

In such cases, there is a huge learning gap between students who readily have these resources available and those who do not.

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Effects on engagement 

Many kids are dependent on the structure and support of in-person learning. In order to learn in a remote setting, they must also learn to become more independent and rely on self-learning. Of course, parents may assist their kids but parents are also caught up in working from home with offices shut down.

Naturally, if a student misses out on a few assignments, he may feel discouraged to try and complete them or the new ones coming in. In this case, he/she might end up leaving them out altogether.

On the other hand, some students may be affected by the demand for live video input while attending classes. Students who face difficulty in focusing or managing their sensory input or experience anxiety may feel extremely uncomfortable with their cameras on. This may also affect their learning abilities. In this case, they may also prefer to not engage or participate in their classes at all. (Here it is also important to mention that not all students engage in the same way)

Effect on their communication abilities

With kids not being able to interact face-to-face with their peers or instructors there is a possibility that it may have negative impacts on their communication skills. Good communication skills are considered a core soft skill in today’s world. They are usually developed over time in a learning environment particularly in your colleges, universities, or schools. With the lack of one-on-one interaction, kids may face difficulties in communication when they pursue careers.

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Effect on posture/health

Dr. Theodore Ganley, an orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says, “We don’t think of kids getting repetitive stress injuries or fatigue injuries or musculoskeletal aches and pains like the parents and grandparents get, but children are not immune from these things, especially if they work at computers day after day in awkward postures.” 

Neck strain, back strain, eye strain are things that can affect anyone, particularly kids having spent extended periods of time hunched over monitors. There are also raised concerns about kids that attend classes in bad postures accumulating damage that may not properly reveal until they reach older age. 

Effect on Mental Health

With effects on health and posture, there have also been severe effects on the mental health of kids. There has been a large spike in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions ever since kids have been forced to stay at home. Those who had pre-existing mental health conditions reported a worsening of their conditions.

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With the loss of connection with peers, many kids felt isolated and alone. They resorted to social media and gaming communities to fill this gap but even so, it did not make any apparent change. 

There is however an upside to this. Kids who experienced social anxiety or bullying seem to find remote learning a relief. They found it much easier to focus on their academics without experiencing discrimination or bullying. 

All in all, remote learning is not one we can avoid until the pandemic comes to an end. What we can do is assist students as much as possible in their e-learning sessions. Schools also need to ensure that the process of e-learning is streamlined without sacrificing the attention given to each individual student.

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