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Zoom fatigue is real and students say it’s taking an effect on their learning

For almost a year now, the majority of students at Long Beach State have been receiving most of their schooling through Zoom, and many say they struggle to maintain engagement with their classes.

Zoom fatigue is the feeling of burnout that results from spending extensive amounts of time on video calls. A lack of human connection, delay in audio or internet and the pandemic contribute to this feeling.

“The main thing that I feel is missing from online class is definitely the social interactions that face-to-face learning provides,” said second-year molecular cell biology major Louie Calzado. “I miss being able to laugh and joke with my friends right before lecture starts, but nowadays people just have their cameras off and never talk.”

Students are spending several hours a day staring at screens and lack that social interaction which they say results in feeling burnt out by the end of the day.

“When it comes to interaction between students, it feels forced,” said first-year biology major Sean Tyler Lim. “If it were in person it would feel more natural. But online, you feel like you are required to speak or participate.”

When students turn off their cameras in Zoom meetings, others tend to follow and do the same. Lim said that when you see others turn off their cameras, you begin to feel self-conscious and don’t want to be the only one with it on.

“It definitely contributes to feeling burnt out because it feels awkward to be the odd one out,” Lim said. “For me personally, if I don’t see myself on screen engaging in class, I don’t really register the fact that I am not invested in what’s going on.”

A research study conducted by Laurence Conty and Guillaume Dezecache found that a large majority of communication is nonverbal and unconscious, such as body posture and other social cues. Lacking that factor, people have to compensate with additional cognitive and emotional effort to stay engaged, which results in fatigue.

To overcome Zoom fatigue, Calzado goes offline to do other activities.

“One thing that I do to overcome Zoom burnout is I actually go outside,” Calzado said. “Stepping out of the house to get a change of pace after staring at the screen for hours at a time is very beneficial for me.”

Vicente Torrijos, third-year literature major, is on Zoom from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. every weekday. Torrijos only has a couple hour-long breaks in between his live Zoom classes. In a week, he spends between 18 and 20 hours on Zoom.

In addition to being on Zoom for school, since he is a supervisor at Starbucks, Torrijos also attends online meetings. Outside of school and work he attends casual Zoom meetings to catch up with friends.

For Torrijos, going to school online and attending Zooms has made the education experience much harder than it was in person. He said he felt confident going into the first fully-online semester, but once it started he found that it was harder than he thought.

The issues with online school were already hard for Torrijos, whose space at home is not conducive to learning, but Zoom has exacerbated these issues.

Torrijos said he feels relieved when a Zoom class ends and he has time before his next class.

“I just let out a big sigh and I stretch,” Torrijos said. “And I’m just like, ‘OK, I’m good for another, maybe hour or two.’”

Torrijos said while he is still on his laptop in between Zoom sessions, he is not necessarily burdened by the screen time.

“It’s the whole process of going through Zoom to get my education and to get the lectures that I would normally get at school,” Torrijos said. “That’s the tricky part. I can be on my laptop all day doing the things that I love. I can be writing, photo editing—anything that isn’t Zoom—and I can be fine.”

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