What is tech fatigue?
Technology or digital fatigue is defined as the state of exhaustion and disengagement that occurs among people who are required to use numerous digital tools and applications concurrently. Everybody across the globe has been heavily relying on technology these past few years, especially since the pandemic hit. Many, if not all of us, have experienced digital fatigue. Even though technology has been around for decades, we sometimes don’t have a choice to not be online.
Why do students experience digital fatigue?
The teaching and learning processes have mostly been shifted onto the online platform. This has tremendously changed how things would work compared to in traditional classrooms. Online interactions are very much different compared to face-to-face lessons. Having to attend classes online can be overwhelming. Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact or online meetings are very exhausting. This can be the case because having to regularly see yourself during video conferencing can be stressful. In online classes, students might feel highly conscious of seeing themselves on the screen. In a traditional classroom setting, they only have to pay attention to the teacher at the front of the class, but now they have to worry about how others would be looking at them.
Attending classes online may seem easy, more convenient, and a whole lot more fun until students may suffer from digital fatigue.
The cognitive load is very much higher for online meet-ups. In the education sector especially, cognitive load drastically increases when unnecessary demands are imposed on students, making the task of processing information more complex than usual. Online lectures do also restrict mobility. Students may feel uncomfortable having to stay still in the same spot while trying to retain information. This additional focus to do it ‘right’ may cause individuals to experience fatigue.
What are the impacts of digital fatigue?
Digital fatigue can cause a great number of consequences. The most crucial is lack of focus in the classroom. This will prevent them from absorbing knowledge despite the fact that they are present for the lesson. The inability to focus during lessons will result in lower academic performance.
Digital fatigue can also cause much bigger problems such as anxiety and stress. Students can feel disengaged and lose their willingness to participate in class. This could then lead to a high dropout risk. Social skills amongst your students’ may become suppressed or underdeveloped. This is due to the disengagement they have not being in a physical classroom.
The struggle is not just among students, but educators have also been reporting feeling burned out by the overuse of technology. Educators are still struggling to integrate technology into their teaching process. Even though they were equipped with technology and new skills to carry out digital learning. It could be an overload of information. A lot of new digital tools were introduced in a short time frame. They already had a lot to begin with and now having to keep adapting to new technology and information might just be too much for them to handle.
Digital fatigue significantly affects the teaching and learning process. It is without a doubt that e-learning has made lives easier and education more accessible in these trying times. However, digital fatigue can take a huge toll on students and educators, which can be disruptive to their physical and mental well-being if not addressed accordingly.
The quick shift to digital learning has caused many learners and educators to experience digital fatigue. It is a problem faced by many, even those outside the education sector who are struggling to deal with burnout from the excessive use of technology. However, technology is not the cause of tech fatigue, but rather how we as consumers use and manage technology in our daily lives.
How do we overcome tech fatigue?
During the past year, the usage of computers and mobile screens drastically increased on a global scale. Average screen time has been soaring post-pandemic. When school and work were shifted online, individuals had no choice but to be on their devices longer. Some for at least half of the day and because our source of entertainment is also on our mobile devices, this has caused the average hours to skyrocket. Logging on to watch your favorite tv show or play games is not necessarily bad, but as we have spent so much time on our phones and laptops already, perhaps finding a good balance would prevent us from suffering tech fatigue.
Tips on overcoming tech fatigue
How do we get started on finding that balance? Here are some tips you can do to help to overcome tech fatigue, regardless if you are a teacher, student, parent, or anyone in between.
1. Do a personal reflection on screen time.
Monitor your daily hours. Do you spend 7 hours on average? Maybe 8? Ask yourselves, are all of those hours productive?
2. Setting a screen time limit.
After you have monitored your screen time, identify which parts you would like to cut down. Since work and school are a must, try cutting down your entertainment time online. Set a maximum screen time per day where possible around your schooling or working hours
3. Discovering new hobbies offline.
Perhaps binge-watching a tv show is not the best way to spend the rest of your day. There are so many activities you can opt to do at this time instead. You can go out for a short walk, or ride a bike at the nearest park. Perhaps try out new board games to play with your family. There are many activities one can do if you are not an outdoor person.
However, if you prefer spending time on your own after a long day, you can always take up reading, build that lego you have always wanted to, solve puzzles, or even learn new skills such as sewing and crocheting. The list is endless and finding a new favorite pastime can help you get that digital detox you need to start afresh working on the computer again the next day. After all, making sourdough or dalgona coffee became a huge trend during lockdown.
4. Culling your digital herd.
Do you really need all of your social media accounts? Do you have to log on to each and every one of them every day just because? Are you tired of doom scrolling past midnight? This is your sign! Only keep the ones you feel is the most necessary to stay in touch with your friends and family. Others you don’t use too much? Time to uninstall!
5. Schedule Sensory Rest
Bright screens and being bombarded with a lot of information can drive our senses into overload and leave them exhausted. It is important to schedule sensory rest. Take 1-2 days break outside of work and school schedule to reconnect with friends and family. Use this time for face-to-face interactions or perhaps in nature as well.
Tech fatigue has been a popular issue lately, and while it has been widely talked about, we still find ourselves having to endure it. Digital mediums are never the cause. The problem lies with how the medium is typically used. Together we can minimize causes and symptoms to create a healthy balance online and offline and further reduce the stakes of suffering digital burnout. We can only do so much, if it is taking a toll on your physical and mental well-being, be sure to seek professional help.
Do you have any other tips to overcome tech fatigue you’d like to share? We would love to know!