Does Online Learning Affect Mental Health? The Risks and The Way Forward

In today’s technology-driven education, more and more students are turning toward their computers for academic help. While online learning can be an advantage for educators and parents, it also opens up potential problems, from distractions to mental health issues. 

Learning online can lead to feelings of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. There are a lot of factors that cause this kind of problem, including the lack of emotional support, the great distances to travel, the lack of clear surroundings, and the lack of contact with friends and family.

Struggling with mental health issues isn’t easy. Many students and teachers don’t know where to turn for help. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues immediately and address the situation with discipline and compassion.

This article will help educators and parents understand the potential risks of online learning and explore ways to ensure student mental health. 

What Are the Potential Risks of Online Learning?

1. Online learning can cause fatigue

Online learning can be both mentally and physically tiring. Students and teachers can suffer from fatigue. Fatigue is the mental or physical exhaustion caused by continuous work over a long period. 

If you are studying for a math test for 3 hours and you’re doing it online, you will probably start to get tired, which will make it hard for you to concentrate. The same thing happens to teachers and students who go over material too frequently. Overuse of the brain can cause physical fatigue as well. 

Thus, teachers should devote equal time to each segment of their lesson plans so that each gets its due.

2. Online learning can cause depression, increased anxiety, and stress

Online learning has been proven to help students succeed. Unfortunately, online learning is also linked to anxiety and depression for certain students. According to a study by the American College Health Association, over 60% of college students report experiencing anxiety or depression during their college years.

These disorders can be triggered by a variety of stressors. One of the most common is online learning. Online learning is a huge part of college life. As a result, students are constantly reminded of the online learning they must do as well as the learning that is coming up in their classes.

This constant reminder of learning can be stressful and lead to anxiety and depression. The good news is, there are things you can do to lessen your chances of developing anxiety or depression. Also, there are ways to lessen the severity of anxiety or depression that you may already have.

3. Lack of motivation and interest in the learning process

Online learning might be the wave of the future, but it isn’t uncommon for students to question their motivation and interest in learning. What if you can’t see yourself doing it? You are likely to have a hard time learning new material if you prefer to skip rather than do something.

It’s also important to understand that motivation isn’t just about wanting to be successful. You’ll need to be intrinsically motivated, which means you’ll need to enjoy what you’re learning. If you can’t connect the subject matter to your interests and goals, it will be difficult to get motivated.

SEE: Discover how to motivative online learners

4. Inability to develop interpersonal and social skills

For children and adults who often cannot attend a traditional classroom setting, online education can be a great advantage. However, the lack of human interaction can be a concern for children.

Online learning can cause an inability to develop interpersonal and social skills. This can greatly affect a person’s mental health. And for some, the number of interactions children receive could cause mental health disorders or other medical problems.

SEE: The benefits of interpersonal skills 

5. Decreased interest in the real world

Not only do artificial realities show students a fake world, but it also gives them the feeling that they can’t do things themselves. You can understand why some people might think that online education would make a student disinterested in real-world experience. After all, if you’re learning about everything from inside your home, why bother leaving it?

Online learning provides students with plenty of convenient distractions, keeping them from completing their assignments. Most students find it easier to work from home, but they may become so focused on these distractions that they lose interest in the real world. Reality and the virtual world should be in balance, but that’s not the case in reality.

How Can Online Learning Students Take Care of their Mental Health?

1. Take part in physical activities

While online learning helps students gain more knowledge, a lack of physical activity can cause harm to mental health. To avoid this problem, students should take part in physical activities like playing outside, walking around the block, or swimming. That will help them feel better and focus when learning. 

SEE: The importance of physical education

2. Create a designated workspace 

When students work online, it is important to create a designated workspace where they can comfortably and safely complete their work. This will allow them to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. Things like noise level, lighting, and ventilation can all be controlled if they are done in a well-organized manner.

3. Provision of support by parents 

Many students are struggling with their mental health, but often don’t know how to cope with it. The best thing parents can do is to keep an eye on them and provide help when possible. Mental health issues can be hard to handle, but it is completely possible to overcome them. 

Start by asking the child about how they’re doing, and listen attentively. Make sure you are both comfortable. If you feel you can’t handle it, you can always talk to a therapist or a loved one. You can also share this article.

SEE: The role of parents in a child’s education

4. Take care of your sleep schedule and exercise regularly

Online learning is a growing trend. That said, online students need to be aware that online learning affects their mental health too. Sleep and exercise are the two aspects of your mental health that are seriously affected by online learning.

It is common for students who take online classes to lack sleep and do not exercise regularly. This can affect mental health and make it hard to focus on work. You can help improve your mental health by making sure you are getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and engaging in regular stress-relieving activities such as yoga or meditation.

SEE: Proven ways to get paid to sleep

5. Join a club or meet up group that interests you

Online learning can be great, but it can also make you feel isolated from others. Joining a club or meet-up group that interests you—especially in the area where you live—can help you develop friendships and mentors. 

You can join a book club, a nature club, an art club, or even a gardening club. They can all help foster your fascination with that particular topic and get you to talk to new people about your interests. If you let yourself get out there, these groups can certainly help.

6. Personalize your learning plans

Learn the subjects that you struggle with or concentrate more on what you know well, and you can customize your learning plan. You can use a learning plan template to guide your plan, but remember to make it your own. Before proceeding with the creation of your learning program, figure out what your learning goals are.

Do you want to improve your reading speed? Or maybe grammar and spelling are a problem, so you’re looking for an English learning program. If you have a classroom, focus on projects that your students can complete in an online learning environment. If you’re an adult learner, make sure that the activities are age-appropriate and relevant to your situation.

SEE: Understand self-learning

7. Keep your motivation high

If you do have an online learning mindset and are still having trouble seeing improvement, think of a more unique approach and try to learn in a fun way. Do not get burned out working on your online classes. Set aside a certain amount of time to work and stick to it. 

Plan your schedule with school projects, classes, and other responsibilities that you have. Do not feel discouraged. Keep the motivation high and find an online platform you are comfortable with. Use these things to motivate you and keep you moving so that they will not become a burden to you.

8. Avoid comparison and self-esteem issues

In some cases, when students engage in online learning, they often compare themselves with other online or face-to-face students. They may even criticize their learning processes and compare them with other students’ learning processes, which can negatively influence their mental health. 

Other students also envy you. You can take classes anytime, anywhere; you have unlimited access to your instructors and online tutors. Furthermore, you can learn at your own pace as well as your own pace.

9. Teachers should allow students to interact with their classmates by setting up group and pair projects

People who are learning online may feel a little alienated and lonely, so interaction is important. Teachers can help with this by allowing them to interact with their classmates by setting up group and pair projects. Besides, collaborating with others online is a good strategy for dealing with challenging projects, as long as you know how to work together.

SEE: The benefits of interactive learning

10. Understand that you’re not alone and stay positive

Being in school can be stressful, whether the class is online or on campus. Learning something new can be hard, and it often takes a while to get used to the environment of an online classroom. 

Understanding that you are not alone is crucial, as thousands of students around the country and across the globe are experiencing similar difficulties. A few simple steps can go a long way toward improving your mental health. 

Can online learning be trauma-responsive?

Online learning can be trauma-responsive if it gives students flexibility and autonomy. Several benefits of online learning are available to people with mental health issues. They include convenience, privacy, and accessibility from anywhere and at any time.

As they require less guidance and are more autonomous, they may be able to cope better with trauma than traditional courses. Also, courses can be altered according to the needs and demands of the student, which also makes them more trauma-responsive.

These days, there are also online counseling centers that can be accessed easily. Many people find online education helpful in dealing with stress and mental health issues.

SEE: Identify the various coping skills

FAQs

Are there any exercises that can help with online learners’ mental health? 

Yes, some exercises can help boost your mental health. Exercises like yoga can help bring your physical and mental health back under control. Yoga is good for both the body and the mind. You can also look for other forms of exercises that you can do easily without being too demanding. 

You can also try stretching and doing some physical exercises to get your mind and body in sync. Remember, you are one and you need to keep yourself healthy, both mentally and physically.

How do you recognize a child struggling with mental health issues?

An online learner who might be struggling with mental health issues may show the following; signs of difficulty concentrating, increased levels of anxiety and stress, apathy or anger, and an overall irregular pattern in their schoolwork. They might also show some signs of depression, such as a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.

Final Thoughts 

Online learning is a convenient and affordable way to get an education in today’s accelerated technological world. However, with all the distractions available on the Internet, it can be difficult for online learners to focus on their studies. To ensure that online learners have good mental health, they need to find ways to control these distractions. 

When they are trying to concentrate on their assignments, they can block out distractions or move around a little bit every couple of hours. To be successful in their online degree programs, online learners need to maintain a healthy mental state of mind during their learning process.

Although online learning can negatively impact mental health if learners don’t follow the right practices, it does have some benefits. Imagine if people with busy schedules or students who want to study abroad didn’t have access to online learning.

There is an article on the website that outlines the benefits of online learning. Check it out for more information.

Thanks for reading.