Is Zoom Actually Harmful?

By Hanna Yamato

Since the abrupt beginning of self-quarantine and the “stay-at-home” order in March, many of us have had to learn to adjust to the new technical apparatus of Zoom; whether that is for school, work meetings, or even dance classes, it has its clear advantages and drawbacks. Whereas many focus on the aspect of internet connectivity disruptions, they may be unaware of how sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day is physically affecting them. 

“Zoom fatigue,” is defined as the “phenomenon of feeling inordinately exhausted and/or inundated or stressed out after attending meetings through a videoconference platform.” Contrary to popular belief, zoom fatigue does not only stem from excessive eye strain, but also from a variety of different factors put together. Just to name a few, these factors include…

  • Not being able to actually make eye contact, making us lose one of the most vital components of communication.
  • Video chat requires extreme focus; essentially more than what we’re used to with face-to-face interaction.
  • We as human beings tend to naturally overcompensate for not being in-person; moreover, we are more aware of our facial expressions and body language to show that we are paying attention.

At first, it may not seem to be a big deal; however, the buildup of performing these actions every day can eventually take a toll on our bodies both physically and mentally. While the most prevalent sign being frequent headaches, we also tend to feel worn out so much faster and often feel drained after one too many meetings in a given day. Consequently, this makes the workday more taxing, even with the same workload as before.

Although zoom fatigue may seem inevitable, it is in fact something that can be easily averted.  The key to combating zoom fatigue involves implementing routinely breaks between your meetings or classes so that you can prevent such exhaustion from recurring over and over again. These breaks should not involve your phone or any kind of screen. Instead, go on a walk, get up and stretch, make a healthy snack, or even take a power nap. Furthermore, we can make slight changes during our Zoom meetings that can lead to drastic changes in how we feel. For example, avoid multitasking; instead, close all unnecessary tabs, put your phone away, and stay fully present during your next meeting. You will be surprised to see how much of a difference these minor modifications can make in your overall well-being.