Should we be worried about Zoom fatigue?

Story by Anna Johns, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of

Everyone has experienced it now. Many students are now attending class online and for some, it’s starting to mess with their heads. There is now scientific backing for this phenomenon and it’s known as “Zoom fatigue.”

Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, conducted a study where he examined the consequences of spending long periods of time on social platforms such as Zoom. He found that there are four reasons for Zoom fatigue and he invites Zoomers to complete a questionnaire to see where they land on a Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale.

1) Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact are highly intense

The amount of eye contact in video calls is much different from a normal meeting. When someone speaks in Zoom everyone is watching. For those with social anxiety, this experience can be stressful.

Solution: Bailenson recommends reducing the size of the Zoom window to allow for personal space between oneself and the grid.

2) Seeing yourself during video chats is exhausting

Seeing yourself on Zoom is similar to constantly looking at yourself in the mirror; it’s unnatural. When you stare at yourself too long you become critical and think of your imperfections.

Solution: use the “hide self-view” button.

3) Video chats reduce mobility.

You can’t walk around during a video call. You need to stay in one spot. According to Bailenson, “There’s growing research now that says when people are moving, they’re performing better cognitively.”

Solution: Think about the room you perform your video calls in. Are you comfortable there? Turn your video off periodically if allowed. Give yourself a second to stretch.

4) The cognitive load is higher in video calls.

In video calls, we need to work harder to send and receive signals. Gestures in video calls are totally different than in-person. In video calls, gestures are often exaggerated so you are sure you are seen.

Solution: Give yourself an “audio-only” break. Take a moment to turn off the camera and look away from the screen.

According to Tech Republic, 300 million attend Zoom meetings daily, and 100 million use Google Meet. And screen time reports are through the roof. It’s important to balance screen time. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, sleep deprivation, loss of cognitive ability, and impaired socializing skills.

Many have experienced Zoom fatigue and find themselves lost in their meetings. It’s easy to get distracted during a Zoom call. Distractions are everywhere and it’s harder than ever to focus. Halfway into the Zoom call, many find themselves checking out and letting their mind wander.

Sadly, our world has moved online and there is not much we can do to avoid screens this school year but here are a few helpful tips to make this virtual semester better.

Tips for Zoom

Don’t be afraid to ask questions – you may find yourself lost, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for clarification. Others are probably feeling the same way.

Engage in the conversation – It may feel that the conversation is dominated by other students. Don’t be afraid to jump in.

Go full screen and put away the phone – You are here to learn. Make sure to go full screen and eliminate distractions.

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