Online Learning: a Hard New Reality for America’s Kids

Blank. Everything was pitch black. I didn’t know what to do as I panicked.  

Yes, you guessed it correctly: I was kicked out of my Zoom class for the third time today, despite having a secure internet connection. My teacher went over the time limit allotted for her class for the third day in a row. This meant that I would have to spend upwards of eight hours on my computer.  

In this age of virtual learning, I constantly feel overwhelmed at online school. I have more headaches, and my due dates are just getting closer and closer. This may seem trivial, and I recognize that, but many are truly struggling with this new reality, especially younger children.  

Chances are, if you are able to read this blog post, you are comfortable using a computer. My sister just transitioned to a new school for sixth grade. She constantly looks at the initials of her classmates on her screen. Her school requires that students have their videos off. She complains that she has no friends because of this. The socialization which would have occurred during fun lunch breaks, and recess in the playground, is not available to children.  

These problems get even bigger for younger children. Children attending kindergarten are expected to sit through Zoom classes all day, while relying on parents and older siblings to send emails. Aside from this, the age of 0-5 is when 90% of a child’s brain develops. Due to the coronavirus, many children are not able to access proper development programs during this critical period. Many children develop crucial social and emotional skills in preschool and kindergarten. Due to this new reality, much of that development has been halted. 

Furthermore, there are many problems with children spending upwards of 8 hours a day on a computer. If you recall the last time you went to your primary care physician, you will remember that your doctor probably shook their finger at your 2-hour screen limit. Why is it ok to be on a computer for upwards of 8 hours, when just a few months ago, 2 hours on a screen for a child was too long? Being on a screen for elongated periods of time can lead to nearsightedness due to the blue light that is emitted from our computer and phones screens. 

Additionally, a common problem with online school is equal accessibility. Communities with lower accessibility to Wi-Fi or computers are struggling to find solutions to ensure that everyone can learn. Children have to lean on their caretakers more than ever to assist with technical issues, and supplemental education, which can put extra strain on the family.  

Distance learning is hard. But it shouldn’t mean that children are left behind in their education. If we all pledge to wear our masks and and exercise our right to vote safely this fall, maybe we can return to in-person learning soon.  

Learn more about how you can help children during the COVID-19 pandemic.