During the COVID-19 pandemic, online learning became mainstream and it continues to be a popular form of learning. However, this change has a variety of adverse effects on students’ mental health.
- Students are isolated from their peers and teachers.
Distance learning has caused students to spend much of their time alone in front of a computer, learning on their own. This takes away a lot of their opportunities to build connections with people and improve their social skills. According to Mayo Clinic, people who experience social isolation are more likely to have a “lower quality of life” and feelings of depression. The same article documents that people who socialize feel less lonely and have sharper memory and cognitive skills, more motivation, better well-being and a longer life span. Social isolation can have long-term, debilitating psychological effects that interfere with students’ development during their formative years, which include being withdrawn, having trouble speaking and not knowing what to do in social situations.
- Students feel stressed out and anxious.
When they learn from home, students lose the structured routine they receive in a regular school setting. It may become difficult to separate home life from school life. Since online learners may believe they have more time to finish assignments and can easily get distracted by various devices at home, they can frequently procrastinate and skip deadlines. As reported in the International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, a study that gathered data from 157 college students’ online activity demonstrated that students were more likely to procrastinate when learning online as opposed to in person. This can lead to increased stress and anxiety for students, which takes a toll on their mental well-being.
- Students experience a lack of stimulation and creativity.
Learning online has caused many college students in the prime of their life to be confined in front of a computer for many hours every day. This situation keeps them in their comfort zone, but because there is rarely a change in scenery and few opportunities to meet new people, online learners’ minds are not stimulated and their creativity is diminished. Since online learning makes it difficult for students to have peer discussions, online learners may not often hear ideas other than their own and may not expand their worldview. According to ResearchGate, online learning makes it easier for students to plagiarize other people’s ideas on the Internet instead of spending time coming up with ideas for assignments on their own, which has also led to decreased creativity and brain stimulation in students.
Socialization is a vital part of students’ mental development, but online school fails to facilitate that. So, learning completely online may not be a viable option for students that want to be well-rounded in every aspect of their lives. However, hybrid learning may be a convenient alternative, which does not have the downsides of 100% remote learning.