EXPERT Q&A

Do we know the possible impacts e-learning will have on our children?

Many parents are asking how remote learning environments are impacting their children. CareNectar expert Shenley Seabrook explores the cognitive, physical, and behavioral impacts e-learning may have on children—and provides tips to parents on supporting their children through this trying time.

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Question

Do we know the possible impacts e-learning will have on our children’s health and wellbeing? Being glued to an iPad for 5 to 6 hours per day cannot be good for them.

Answer

This is such an important question that many parents are asking right now. We all worry about what long-term effects our children might experience due to the stress and lifestyle changes caused by COVID-19. The good news is that not all of the effects will be negative. Here are a few points to consider about the potential repercussions of e-learning.

  1. School districts that had little to no experience creating e-learning programs had to come up with quality programs quickly. Basic internet and technology issues were frequent, not only for the teachers in their classrooms, but for the students at home.
  2. Parents now have a not only a better understanding of what their children are learning and working on in school, but most have a greater appreciation for their children’s’ teachers.
  3. Teachers struggled to get students to turn in assignments on time or at all since there was no direct, in-person supervision or follow up from teacher to student. Many older students were left home alone while parents worked, and some parents didn’t realize their kids weren’t turning in assignments until the end of the grading periods. E-learning requires self-motivation and time management skills that many children just haven’t acquired yet.
  4. Children were introduced to new ways to learn and most were able to adapt and even learn additional technology skills. But while some children are great with technology, others are not. This is the same for teachers.
  5. Many states waived the mandates for standardized testing. While this certainly reduced some stress for the students, it made it more difficult to measure the academic skills that were actually being retained.
  6. Children using devices such as laptops and tablets for several hours a day are reporting back, neck, and shoulder pain. They are also likely getting less physical activity throughout the day. Even something as simple as walking from homeroom to art class is gone. Most kids were also not allowed to participate in after school sports. For some kids, was their only opportunity for consistent physical activity.
  7. Social isolation is a real thing. Children are missing out on crucial opportunities for in-person social interaction. Thankfully, most were able to replace the in-person interaction with interaction on social media, text, and video chat, but it’s still not the same.
  8. Increased screen time has been found to be linked with depression, anxiety, and attention problems. However, most of these studies typically looked at how much time kids spent on social media and not necessarily e-learning. Conversely, many parents of children who have experienced depression or anxiety due to bullying or peer conflict have reported that their children are thriving in an e-learning environment. And many students with attention issues have found that e-learning is easier because they can learn in a quiet environment, without the distraction of their peers and the noise of a busy classroom. While this isn’t the same for all children, it helps for some.

So, as parents, what can we do? Please find some tips here:

  1. Manage your expectations. It’s important to manage your own expectations regarding your child’s academic progress. Their mental health should take precedence during this time. This doesn’t mean they should pick and choose which assignments to complete, rather, if they don’t get straight As this year, that has to be okay.
  2. Coordinate virtual study groups. As far as ways to combat loneliness and social isolation, consider helping your child set up a virtual study group. Skype, Zoom, and Google Duo are great ways to do this.
  3. Check in with your child’s teachers. Make sure you are in communication with your children’s teachers. You can not only ask questions about assignments they are struggling with, but also make sure they don’t fall too far behind with their assignments.
  4. Encourage physical activity. Make sure you are providing opportunities for physical activity as often as possible. Allow kids to take movement breaks when they need them.
  5. Participate in blended learning environments. Once you feel safe, enroll your child in a blended learning environment, in which your child attends some classes in-person while others are done online. This will encourage socialization and physical movement, and will reintroduce your child to in-person learning.
  6. Check in with your child about their mental health. This is extremely important for all of us right now, but especially for our children since they don’t often have the words to tell us how they are feeling. Make sure they know that you are proud of them no matter how this year’s learning experience goes. They need to hear that they are doing a good job managing this pandemic and all of the changes that came along with it.

This is a trying time for us all, and the CareNectar team is here for you!

Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.