Combating Zoom Fatigue

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Just as “Googling” is an activity akin to web searches, “Zooming” is becoming ubiquitous as a generic term to describe activities related to videoconferencing. Zoom fatigue refers to the exhaustion you feel after a video conference or call.

As working from home during COVID-19 becomes more commonplace in our daily lives, more people are logging onto popular video chat platforms to connect with colleagues, family and friends. Researchers have a warning – those video calls are likely tiring you out.

A peer-reviewed article published in the Technology, Mind and Behavior journal states that researchers have identified four ways that prolonged videoconferencing calls contribute to Zoom fatigue.

A. Intensive and close-up eye contact

In a video call, both the size of faces on screens and the amount of eye contact is unnatural.

In an in-person meeting, participants would be looking at the speaker, taking notes or looking elsewhere. But in a Zoom call, everyone is looking at everyone else, all the time, even if you are not speaking. People feel like they have to make more emotional effort to appear interested.

Depending on the size of your monitor screen, you may also be looking at the faces of participants at a size that can appear too large for comfort. In real life, our brain interprets this as an intense situation that will lead to intimacy or conflict.

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zoom screens fatigue

B. Constantly seeing yourself is tiring

Most video platforms show a square of what you look like on camera during a chat. But that is unnatural and stressful. Viewing our own negative facial expressions, like anger and disgust, can lead to more intense emotions than when viewing similar facial expressions in others.

Studies show you are more critical of yourself when you see a reflection of yourself. There are negative emotional consequences to seeing yourself in a mirror. Do I need to fix my hair, put on make-up? Shall I change out of my pyjamas, put on a nice top? What are those books behind that person?

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C. Dramatically Reduced Mobility

We walk around and move a lot more during audio phone conversations and in in-person meetings. We meet people on our way to class, chat with friends, move around during breaks. Our physical environment acts as a cognitive factor as we attribute certain meanings to specific activities. It subtly changes our behaviour, influencing creativity and problem-solving.

With videoconferencing, movement is limited in ways that are not natural. We have to stay in the same spot as most video conferencing apps have a set field of view, determined by the cameras we use.

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D. Higher Cognitive Load During Video Calls

Our feelings and attitudes are usually conveyed by nonverbal signals such as facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, gestures, and posture. In a face-to-face meeting, these nonverbal communications are natural and are processed subconsciously.

But in video chats, we need to work harder as paying more attention to these consumes a lot more energy. If you want to show someone you agree with them, you have to do an exaggerated nod or put your thumbs up. A sidelong glance at someone in class could mean something very different when compared to a person on a video chat grid looking off-screen to their child or sibling who just walked into the room. We feel anxious about our remote workspace and events that might make us look bad to our colleagues or classmates in the call.

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Additional tips for our Elucidation Learning students, parents and educators

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For more ideas to incorporate in your online school day, check out some of these great resources:

Got a great tip for combating Zoom fatigue? Do share it with us by adding a comment here or below our posts on social media. Alternatively, email us at info@myelucidation.com to let us know. Don’t forget to tell us your name so that we can attribute your contribution.

The Elucidation Learning advantage

At Elucidation Learning, our learners are like children of our own. We balance academic rigour with mentorship. Our educators model adaptability and resilience even as they combine high-tech and low-tech approaches to better deliver curriculum lessons tailored to meet the academic needs of your child.

For a free assessment of your child’s work, make an appointment with us.  You can drop in at any of our centre locations and speak to us.  Call us at +65.6464-0323 or Whatsapp us at +65.9738-8529.  Find out how Elucidation Learning can guide and help your child as we navigate the new education landscape together with parents.

References: Our reading list for this article

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