Three Parenting Secrets to End Zoom Fatigue In Teens

by
Dr. Ariel Thorpe

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” - Frederick Douglass, American slavery abolitionist.

We have all been affected by the pandemic and created an entirely new paradigm of work life. Zoom burnout is real and likely here to stay for the foreseeable future. In December of 2019, Zoom had 10 million users and by April of 2020, that number exploded to 300 million with 90,000 schools Zooming. While this has been a new experience for us, remote learning has been around for longer than many realize. The influenza pandemic of 1918 closed schools for up to 15 weeks and then the Polio outbreak of 1937 lead to radio learning. Teachers broadcast their lessons via the radio to kids quarantining at home. Although remote learning is nothing new, the effects of it are obvious.

The issue isn’t remote learning itself, but the culmination of all the media and electronic device usage and its effect on our health. The latest research reports that children are now spending about 90 minutes per day sitting for school-related activities and more than 8 hours a day of leisure-related sitting. Adolescents in Shanghai were measured before and during the pandemic and inactivity increased by 44% while sufficient physical activity decreased by 42%. These are troubling statistics because we can see that the problem is not Zoom fatigue from school, but from all of the other device usage and lack of exercise piled on top.

The new buzz term is “sitting is the new smoking” because we now know that sedentary behavior is a major contributing factor to the chronic disease epidemic we are suffering from globally and locally. That sitting trend is starting early and unfortunately being compounded by the gross over use of electronic devices. Short-term changes in physical activity and sedentary behavior as a direct result of Covid are now looking like permanent changes, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Notably, those conditions are also the underlying conditions that directly relate to worse Covid outcomes.

How can we combat these troubling predictions for future health outcomes? Thankfully, parents can have a huge impact. Research has concluded that parents are a determining factor for media and electronic device usage. The most predictive factor in whether or not kids met the recommendations for sedentary behavior was how parents thought they were able to restrict their kids’ screen time. This means it is on the parents to make the rules and then reinforce them.

Other behavioral changes that parents can make include:

  1. Being active in front of their kids. Kids will mimic the behaviors they see in the adults around them. So, the better you are at staying active, the more obvious that behavior will be to the kids.
  2. No screen time during meals. Let the dining table be a sacred place. No phones for anyone - parents included. Give the body the chance to rest and digest rather than get swept up in scrolling.

If you’re unsure as to how this Zoom fatigue is affecting your kids’ health, get them checked by a chiropractor. The neurological and postural changes that happen during development can cause permanent changes for the better or for the worse. Ensure that your kids are zooming forward in a positive direction.


Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7472405/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7190470/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7552759/

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