This academic year in Kerala has shifted to a digital mode due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Info Clinic, a Facebook group of doctors, lists out some pointers for the parents to ensure fruitful study sessions for the students during these unprecedent times.
Gadgets are generally used to watch movies and play games. Now, this has become a medium for students to learn. As the students are not constantly under the watchful eyes of a teacher, extra care needs to be taken to ensure that students are focussing on their studies.
» Identify a spot in the house that is peaceful and do not have much sound disturbance. Or else use earphones.
» Avoid areas that are generally used for playing.
» Ensure proper light and good ventilation.
» Learning device
» If possible, do not install social media apps or games on the device used for learning. Or else, disable the notifications of these app.
» If the studies are offline, switch off the data connection.
» Ensure that the device does not have any obscene or other inappropriate images.
While listening to classes
» Ensure no pop-ups
» Keep a watch on the child to ensure that they are not distracted by other activities at home or by the television.
» After a study session of 45 minutes, ask students to take a break for 15 minutes. Ensure that students are not using any gadgets during this break time. This would be good for their eyesight. Also, instruct them to walk a bit or stretch their legs.
» Discipline is a must. Chances of irresponsible behaviour increases when people are online. These can also have long-term impacts.
» If videos of the student are shared, then be careful of what and all are being showcased in that frame.
For eye health
» Staring at the screen for long could lead to several health issues such as headache, blurred vision, and discomfort.
» The brain and eye react differently to the letters that appear on the computer screen and the letters on the book. Eyes need to focus more to read from the screen as the letters are not sharply defined. Due to this the eyes muscles have to strain more and are left weakened.
» Normally, we blink 15 times in a minute, (i.e., once in four seconds). When we stare at the screen for long hours, and also when it is positioned above the eye level, the blinking rate is reduced. The eyes become dry, and this can lead to irritability and a scratchy sensation.
How to stop it
» The computer screen should be 20 inches away from the eyes. Also, position the screen at a height for four to six inches below the eyelevel.
» Ensure proper lighting in the room. The screen brightness should be slightly less than that of the light in the room.
» Blink often while looking at the screen.
» Remember the 20-20-20 rule - While looking at the computer screen for long hours, take a break every 20 minutes and for 20 seconds look at something at a distance of 20ft. Practice this during the online class or during breaks.
» Keep the computer screen clean.
» Those using glasses should wear it during the class as well.
Let them make decisions
» Parents have to take a larger role in the student's learning process as the teacher is not directly involved.
» Prepare a time-table for the online class, homework and playtime.
» Do not try to micro-manage. Let the students take the decisions whenever possible.
Talk to them, get to know of their future aspirations. Make them realise the importance of studying hard and forsaking some free-time now for achieving that goal.
» Make the study material more relatable - point out examples from everyday life.
» Do not speak ill of the school or their teachers in their presence.
» Give them opportunities to hold discussions on the study materials with their classmates. This will better help in memorising the lessons
» Keep in touch with the parents of classmates. Get to know the steps they have taken and whether these have succeeded or not.
» Always be in contact with the school and authorities.
» Sleep is of paramount importance
» Prolonged screen time can cause sleeplessness in several people. Brain stores information for long term when the body sleeps. Therefore, sufficient sleep is imperative for the student. Sleeplessness can also lead to mental distress.
» Keep the gadgets out of the student's bedroom.
» Avoid the screen during night hours even if it is for study purposes.
Monitoring screen time
» Apart from affecting the eyes, prolonged screen time can also cause problems to shoulders, neck, hands and sleep patterns. This can lead to depression and addiction. Therefore, bring in maximum restrictions on screen time during non-class hours.
» Encourage students to learn without the gadgets and help them in doing this. Get print outs of question papers and other study materials. Instead of PDF files of the textbooks, get the hard copy. This will also help in memorising things.
» Do not let them stare at screens while talking to others or during meal times.
» Parents should also not keep staring at the screen, and set bad examples for their little ones.
» As students spend more time online, parents should take some precautions.
» Do not reveal personal details or passwords.
» Arrange the private settings such that the posts are only visible to the friends and family.
» Do not put up posts randomly.
» Do not chat with strangers.
» Let the students know that they should inform their parents if someone causes distress to them online or drag them into sexual topics.
» Make use of features such as parental controls on the phone and computer.
» Constantly being home and listening to COVID-19 updates could cause mental distress in children. This can affect their concentration level and studies.
» Let the students know about the precautions you have taken to keep the family safe.
» Avoid information overload - too much exposure to COVID-19 news can be stressful.
» Tell them to be wary of fake news on social media.
» Clear any doubts they have about the dreaded illness. Seek the help of healthcare personnel or helplines, if needed
» Encourage students to take up hobbies or engage in offline games such as board games.
» Make a 30-minute daily exercise mandatory.
» Also, encourage them to stay in contact with their classmates and relatives via video calls.