Virtual Semesters and the Impact on Student’s Physical Health

With another semester mostly online, students are spending more and more time looking at a screen. 

The increased screen time has affected a lot of students, many in a negative way. 

Freshman Shreya Sridhar says that at first everything seemed okay. But as the pandemic continues, increased screen time has impacted her health.

“But the longer we went on, especially toward December, toward the end of last semester, I started getting these headaches. And they were…really bad headaches and they would last until the next morning,” Sridhar said.

After seeing her eye doctor, she was told her headaches were from constantly looking at her laptop. But with everything online it’s hard to just put it down. 

“It is impossible to get off your laptop, because we have literally our entire lives are on our laptop now”, Sridhar said.

Music studies professor Alisha Nypaver agrees. She is trying to help students who may be struggling due to the excessive time spent looking at a screen. 

“I’ve been trying to encourage students to find ways to make it less painful,” Nypaver said. “Whether it’s getting the blue light glasses, which are super super helpful, I cannot recommend them enough, I was getting major headaches before I got those, she said, adding that she’s “trying to find ways to get off the screen while you’re still doing the work.”

Nypaver recommends using a PDF viewer to listen to reading assignments out loud. She also provides alternative ways for students to access their work, for example optional asynchronous classes. 

In addition, she also gives assignments that do not require the use of a laptop, for example – going for a “sound walk.”

Director of Disability Resources and Services Andrea Vassar says that students with accommodations have come forward to ask for modifications because of the online learning.

“Let’s say you’re a person with a migraine, you wouldn’t normally be in person, but now you’re in Zoom 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours a day, you now need some kind of accommodation that gets you modified attendance with regards to being on zoom all day long”, said Vassar.

Navigating these virtual semesters are not easy. Associate Director at Campus Recreation Anne Wilkinson gave Temple Update some tips on how students can keep their health in check. The most important one – staying active.

“It’s as simple as setting your alarm to stand more, to remember to stand, hydrate, make sure you’re drinking that water…enjoy the movement that you’re doing, just intentionally get out and do things that you enjoy like dancing or going for a walk”, Wilkinson said.

Both DRS and Campus Rec recommend reaching out to someone if you feel you are struggling. You can find the DRS website here, and you can click here for Campus Recreation resources.


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