Zoom School Is Hurting Kids’ Mental Health

A high school student explains why, and how to make it better

Rainier Harris
Elemental
Published in
4 min readNov 25, 2020

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Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

When the pandemic hit and remote learning began in March, I first thought it was an extended Spring Break — a nice vacation away from high school for a few weeks, maybe even two months at the very most. I thought I could destress, the workload would be light, and I could hang out with friends in between classes.

Obviously, I was wrong. Eight months later, I’m still spending at least six hours of remote learning per day on Zoom. And sometimes I laugh when I remember that in before times, my teachers used to recommend no more than two hours of screen time per day.

Remote learning often feels paradoxical. It seems as though I have more time to myself, but that’s not really the case. Yes, the daily three-hour commute from Queens, New York to my high school in Manhattan is gone, but since my productivity levels have nosedived, I need that extra time to deal with the hours of homework my teachers feel more than willing to put on me despite the world falling apart.

“Because of the switch to remote learning, it’s a whole new problem set with how to identify mental health issues with children, adolescents, and college students.”

20% of high school students say the pandemic has worsened their mental health

On Zoom, so many little moments that made my days better are gone. The jokes while passing through my school’s hallways, the side eyes and the stifled laughs during class are what helped to make an ordinary school day bearable. At home I sit around my desk for hours, hunched over a computer screen, and despite being able to FaceTime friends daily, I feel lonely.

As remote learning drones on, life feels more and more uncertain. When will I go back to school in person? What happens if I get Covid-19? What if I give it to my parents? What if my parents pass it to me? The fact that my mother, 55 years old and African American, is a frontline worker, adds to this troubling feeling of uncertainty. She is the office manager at a pediatricians’ office in…

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