Mental Health Impacts of Internet Communication during the Pandemic
Current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to exacerbate the need of convening classroom through or via the internet. This unprecedented phenomenon is of course has never happened or being done before in anyway albeit slightly, but now is a basic requirement for school aged children during their school developmental years. Everybody is converging themselves into online and virtual platforms in doing their works and activities. This happens as a reaction to the current pandemic situation with the noble intention to stop the spread of the fatal Covid-19 virus. Furthermore, the current directive of imposing the now Movement Control Order 3.0 has lengthened the need to have more upcoming event of virtual or online classroom teaching and learning, and online meetings since companies have adopted the approach of WFH or working from home practices.
The need to have all learning activities and class room or meeting online has triggered some adverse reaction and uncomfortable feeling to some people especially the children involved, the teachers and of course the parents themselves. One main reason for this is that everyone has to forcibly embrace this very alien situation as a new norm of life and that they need to practice it as a new lifestyle. This has never been an easy situation in the long run especially when it comes to online classroom teaching and learning.
Everyone is aware of the how and what it is like to have online classes. Starting a new day in the early morning facing the screen continuously for a long period of time, up to 5 hours a day every day. It is in fact so tiring. This of course may lead to the development of severe form of detrimental health effects, physically, as well as mentally. Continuously staring and watching the screen more than an hour a day every day is enough to bring some damages to the eye, let alone if more than 2 hours of continuous use. It is so common nowadays that children are having eye sight issues at very young age due to overloaded screen time. Many children develop headache so frequently that is attributable to eye strain that occurs as a result of incremental use of screen time. Eye strain is also understood as asthenopia or ocular fatigue, indicating some fatigue or strain to the eyes that occurs as a result of intense use of the organ.
In addition, sitting longer in front of the computer screen than is necessary is also not good for child healthy development. The ergonomic posture is compromised and the physical activities are limited. Children who lack physical activities are more prone to be weak and easily losing their muscle mass. They are also more prone to fall and seems to be clumsy and therefore are at more risk to get injured. Therefore, prolonged screen time is not good for children healthy development. It is even worse if they sit in front of the screen longer than what is recommended. For further information and guidelines of recommended screen time, readers can refer to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Practice Guidelines. Online learning may also impose different level of understanding among the students to understand the subject matter that consequently creates feeling of anxiety, frustration, inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Among other unwanted negative effects of continuous screen time is screen fatigue. Screen fatigue is different from eye fatigue or ocular fatigue. Screen fatigue refers to the feeling and sensation of being tired, worried and burnout in relation to online internet activities. This condition represents a form of mental fatigue, which is usually associated with the intense and over use of virtual platform as a medium of communication via the internet.
This condition happens as an adverse effect of neuropsychological function weakening due to the nature of intense online psychological efforts in order to comprehend online communication and information. In fact, the down side of it, especially if forced, unintentional, and prolong as well as unmonitored or uncontrolled use of virtual media platform, contributes to the feeling of anxiety and helplessness that may end up in despair and frustration. Even worst, it may increase the risk to develop mental health problems soon, or trigger the relapse of the existing mental illness.
Online meeting or classroom meeting in anyway has never been so funny as compared to physical meeting. It is boring, tedious and non-rewarding, but need some efforts in order to make it rewarding and satisfying. However, it is a matter of fact that nowadays, people all over the world has succumbed themselves to online activities and therefore we can never imagine how serious the negative consequences of it on the mental health wellbeing of the people.
Since we are preparing ourselves for a better life during this pandemic situation, we should not neglect the need of our mental health wellbeing while we are online. There are ethical codes of conducts that we shall follow when using any communicating platforms in the internet in order to manage excessive use of it. Even for the Muslims, the saying of the Quran, in surah al Syam, verse 9 means ‘Indeed, successful is the person who makes himself already clean to make himself increasingly clean (with faith and aural virtue), and verily vain is the one who his cleanliness has shrunk and sunk (because of the filth of immorality)’.