Managing screen time will continue to be a challenge for students as the University of Guelph-Humber has confirmed classes will be once again held online.

Victoria Chen, the academic technology specialist at Guelph-Humber, and Matthew LaGrone, assistant program head at Guelph-Humber, have some helpful tips to combat zoom fatigue stating it’s important to manage your screen time.

Zoom fatigue is the mental and physical exhaustion from the prolonged use of a computer, nick-named from the computer program typically used for online lectures.

Zoom fatigue has many contributing factors and symptoms. Zoom’s webcam display is set up so you see yourself and others during a call.  Staring at yourself can be distracting, says Chen.

Lessons in Zoom can go on for hours, so finding time to get away from the screen is important. The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) says that staring at a computer screen for multiple hours can lead to eye strain and it’s related symptoms.

Chen says teachers are finding that students are staring at their own webcam display most of the time, paying more attention to  themselves than the lesson. To avoid looking at yourself Chen suggests using the setting on zoom that only shows who is currently talking.  A less sophisticated solution is to put a sticky note over the place your face appears on the screen.

Staring at a computer also reduces the amount of time you blink per minute from twelve to 5, which the CAO says can lead to eye strain and headaches.

Chen and LaGrone say there’s one easy way to prevent Zoom fatigue – get away from your computer. They suggest going for a walk before and after class to separate your home life from your school life.

Another important tip that Chen and LaGrone recommend is to have a separate set of clothes for during and after class.  LaGrone says that students need to feel like they are “going” to school and that dressing for class can be enough to achieve that.

While class continues, finding time away from the computer may be difficult but “you have to move from the world of bits, to atoms sometimes,” said LaGrone.