Online learning and mental health: understanding the Generational DivideBefore you can understand why and how educators and students are struggling more with mental health today, it’s helpful to first understand the generational divide in regard to education. Today, teachers and students are primarily made up of those from the X, Y, and Z generations, with Gen X and Gen Y being the educators and Gen Z being the students.
The connection to technology
Different ideas about classroom technology
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How online learning could impact the mental health of the XYZ generationsThe generational gaps alone can cause a disconnect between students and teachers. So when you add in technology and the transition to e-learning in addition to all the other stressors that today’s society places on educators and learners, it can result in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Technological advancements are helping to reshape education and have made the transition to online learning possible.
Gen XHowever, older generations of educators who aren’t as tech-savvy are struggling to adapt and keep up. Trends in technology like adaptive learning tech and advanced computing are meant to improve the e-learning environment, but for some teachers, it can make it worse. Gen X is already under a lot of pressure from parents and their superiors to provide quality educational experiences, so when you add in advanced tech and a forced transition to online learning, it can be overwhelming.
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Gen YFor Millennials, the transition to online learning is still stressful but not as difficult. However, as most Millennials also grew up with technology, they hold themselves to higher standards. They know that they are capable of doing better and should, but this can be a heavy burden to carry. Just because they understand technology does not mean they are required to be perfect. Transitioning to online learning is stressful for everyone, but as Millennials are a generation that has always strived to do better, they can struggle more with mental health and anxiety from the pressure they place on themselves.
Gen ZThe struggle to connect with their older teachers is just the tip of the iceberg for students. They are under immense pressure from their peers and parents to be their best. While technology and the internet have improved their lives and capabilities in many ways, it also puts them under a microscope of scrutiny. Because they have everything at their fingertips, they are expected to do better and be better. These higher expectations not only cause severe stress and anxiety but it has also led to an increase in homework. Especially with the transition to online learning, students today are expected to spend twice as much time on homework as kids did in the 90s. Though many of them have adapted easily to e-learning due to their inherent connection to technology, they are struggling under the weight of high expectations and mounds of homework, which can negatively impact their mental health and their growth.
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