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Health effects of working online

Health effects of working online

April 19, 2021
– Riya Ganguly

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, lifestyle has changed drastically over the last year and a half. Today, schools, colleges and workspaces have almost completely shifted base online and there are a very low percentage of educational institutions which are conducting offline classes. Facing over 12 hours of screen time and remaining in the same posture for extended hours has had several adverse impacts on all working from home, especially school children in their developmental years.

Saniya (name changed for confidentiality), a middle-school student currently studying in the United Kingdom was recently diagnosed with a condition called “Pilonidal Sinus”. Commonly known to affect cab and truck drivers as a result of driving for prolonged hours, this has started to affect students too due to their sedentary lifestyle and can range from a simple skin irritation to an infected cyst near the tailbone which may require surgery.

As educational institutions are conducting academic and extra-curricular activities on various online teaching platforms, increased screen time and long hours of inactivity have been proven to have adverse effects on developing children mentally, physically and neurologically. Adverse effects include:

  • Strain on the eyes due to blue light emitted by phone/laptop/tablet screens
  • Postural defects
  • Obesity due to a distinct reduction in physical activity
  • Lack of social stimulus
  • Greater emotional vulnerability among children and problems with concentration

Dr. Bhaskar Roy ChowdhuryDr Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, ophthalmologist and Director of Tamanash Eye Foundation Kolkata spoke about how online learning is adversely affecting children’s eyesight due to long hours of screen exposure. “For children in the age group of two to five years, excessive near work, as in online classes, have been known to cause myopia.”, he explained. “Myopia can also be accelerated with too much screen time in children already having the disease. For all children, excessive screen time can lead to dry eyes and eye fatigue causing burning eyes, frequent blinking, intermittent blurring of vision and headache.” When asked about a possible remedy to tackle eyestrains and disorders, he suggested, “As online classes are not always avoidable, reducing avoidable screen time like playing games or reading books online should be replaced by actual physical activity and outdoor work.”

Vanamala DeepakVanamala Deepak, a Yoga and Meditation Coach at Manipal Hospital, Bangalore and a freelance corporate trainer spoke about the negative impact of long hours of inactivity and increased online presence on children’s physical and mental health. “A balance needs to be maintained between the activities of the body, brain and breath for youth in their growing ages in order to attain a healthy personality. Yoga is a holistic approach in this direction.” she remarked. To reduce the strain on mind and body, she recommended, “Children are advised to do at least two Asanas such as Shashankasana and Surya Namaskar which improve blood flow to the brain and rejuvenate the body, two Pranayamas which help balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain and improve concentration and spend at least five minutes in meditation.” Since students have to remain seated for long hours attending classes, they are recommended to keep their spines straight as slouching may lead to spinal ligaments being stretched beyond their limit and can augment disc bulging and disc pressure. An advocator of the yogic approach to life, she remarked, “Youth today would benefit tremendously from yoga as it is very simple and can be practiced anywhere with absolutely no instruments or monetary outlay. The West is waking up to Yoga, and I urge the Indian youth to adopt this science for success in all fields of life.”

As the world continues to adapt in this unique situation created by the pandemic, online activity and web presence are bound to increase. It is thus imperative that people take control of the situation and adapt their lifestyle to ensure a fit and healthy future despite the pandemic and its limitations.

Also read: Impact of online classes on children’s mental health

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