By Samantha Bradsky | Journalist
It wasn’t until today that someone could suggest that ‘sitting down’ is the new heart attack, and that’s exactly what Trish Baum, the academic resources program manager at Baylor, said when discussing the damage done by digital learning.
In 2020 – the era of online courses and COVID-19 blocks – a Stanford Longitudinal Study found that students spent an average of 78% of their waking hours in front of a screen, which equates to about 12.4 hours of sedentary screen time per day. What’s more, research conducted by the American Heart Association has found that increasing the amount of time young people are sedentary leads to a significant increase in the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
On the eve of a new school year after a digital year, Baum noted the “zoom fatigue” that many students reported. Many students have come to ask for help in “relearning to learn” in a face-to-face environment.
“It was really hard for the students to have the self-discipline to treat asynchronous lessons as synchronous,” Baum said. “There are just a few courses that are not meant to be taught online. Chemistry labs, biology labs – it’s hard to dissect something virtually.
Most of this damage is already known to students; they lived them. So how can they help to counter these unwanted effects? Baum has studied the methods she uses to do this.
“If you can take a break, get up, walk around, and focus on things far away, that’s what they [researchers] recommend avoiding screen fatigue, ”Baum said. “Because everything is close together when you look at a screen, it puts a lot of pressure on you. “
Baum recommended taking 15-minute breaks in the middle of long periods of screen.
“If you can stand while you work on your classes, or get away from your computer if you watch videos, it can rest your body and your eyes,” Baum said.
Despite the ramifications of excessive screen consumption, many students and faculty are seeing the benefits of digital learning.
“It’s better than not learning,” said Lake Forest, Ill. Sophomore Jennifer Asmussen. “I’d rather go to school online than not at all.”
Baum assists students in Learning lab – located in the west wing of the basement of the Sid Richardson Building – where she teaches them time management techniques, the most effective ways to study for class and how to plan a detailed schedule for optimal results . She invites the students to visit her with any questions they may have.
“I think the only positive thing COVID and the all-digital shift have done is teach us new ways to connect with students,” Baum said. “I like this.”