Nearly all of us have likely experienced some degree of screen fatigue — especially over the past two years, as many lab and school environments have taken on a virtual or hybrid approach. Even if you’ve never heard of screen fatigue, you likely know the feeling — like sore or tired eyes, a slight headache, a diminished ability (or desire) to focus on the screen right in front of you.
Screen fatigue is troublesome enough for those scrolling social media or catching up on emails — but what about educators and their students trying to navigate the virtual lab environment? Time sensitive experiments mean you can’t always take a break whenever you want — making it hard for users to know when (and how) to refresh their eyes, or take a walk and get some fresh air.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to promote a healthy screen-life balance during virtual lab days. Read on for a few of our top ideas.
Pair Virtual Labs With Practical Engineering Toolkits
Depending on your unique school schedule and setup (i.e., are you fully virtual or hybrid?), it’s helpful to mix in practical lab time between virtual sessions. For example, Mentis’ engineering toolkits can give students a break from frequent screen use — which is at an all-time high, in our modern society.
Not to mention, these toolkits can help illustrate STEM principles in a hands-on, 3D way! While virtual labs are extremely helpful in demonstrating key concepts, many students may find that a tactile component brings understanding to another level.
Encourage Screen Breaks
It can be all too tempting for students to power through a heavy homework day and not take any breaks from their computer. As an educator, your input makes a difference! Lead by example and encourage your students to take screen breaks with a walk outside or at-home mindfulness exercise — whatever it takes to step away from the screen’s glow, if even for a few minutes.
Defend Your Eyes From Bright, Blue Light
Speaking of that glow...
On a personal level, you may be looking for ways to combat the effects of screen fatigue (and pass that information onto your students!). Some users find it helpful to change their device settings to reduce “artificial” blue light in favor of a warmer tone that emulates soft sunlight — and still others opt for glasses specifically engineered to block blue light in real time. These are just a few possible options worth trying for busy computer days!
Work With Your Students To Provide A Flexible Schedule
When possible, it can be helpful to work with your students to determine a virtual lab schedule that doesn’t overwhelm them. For example, maybe there’s a certain day of the week when most of your students are taking back-to-back online classes — if so, consider scheduling your virtual lab on a different day to avoid too much screen exposure in one period. You might also let your students take your virtual lab in a given timeframe, without specifying exactly which day it needs to happen — further giving them flexibility to offset screen fatigue.
With the demands of the school STEM environment, these virtual lab scheduling options may not always be feasible — but when utilized, they’re just one more layer of defense from pesky screen fatigue!
Now that you’re empowered with tips on avoiding screen fatigue, you can look forward to more effective lab sessions! Looking for ways to outfit your virtual lab with university STEM kits and other essential resources? Contact Mentis Sciences today!