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How to Cope with Internet Fatigue in a Pandemic World

Majority of people find tech essential, yet struggle with constant connectivity.

Key points

  • Self-awareness: One-third of adults say they are trying to reduce their screentime since the pandemic.
  • Reality: 72 percent of parents say their kids spend more time on devices than prior to the pandemic.
  • Zoom burnout is real: A third of Americans are tired of video calls according to new a new survey.
Zoom Fatigue
Source: Magnetme/Pexels

Being Digitally Connected

Prior to the pandemic most people were already on social media, networking included traveling and mingling with friends and colleagues in person. Let's face it, we've always been connected - digitally.

Being digitally connected during the pandemic has taken on a completely new meaning. It has become a time when many people learned how to use Zoom or even how to video chat in general.

“I’ve gone from not even knowing remote programs like Zoom even existed, to using them nearly every day.” – Man, 54

Some people also expanded their tech skills to creating videos, as we have witnessed TikTok exploding.

Parents, especially those that were working from home (online), were also taking on a new position: monitoring remote learning of their children. No small task when mom and dad are already on tech overload.

Internet Fatigue

Emails, replies, social media, powerpoint, Zoom, text, calls, videos.... click, tap, send... it's neverending and can take up your entire day if you allow it.

The results of a survey by PEW Research Center of U.S. adults during a week in April of 2021 reveals how the majority of people understand the essential need and/or the importance of the internet, yet struggle with the amount of time they spend on it.

Zoom burnout has become very real. According to the survey, 40% of adults say that since the pandemic, they have felt worn-out or even fatigued by the increased use of video calls.

Since last year, the amount of Americans that describe the internet as essential has risen only slightly. As of April 2021, 58% of U.S. adults say this, compared with 53% in an April 2020 Center survey.

Parents have a tougher reality check as the report uncovers that the majority of children (72%) are spending more time in front of screens than prior the pandemic. Understandingly most were then online learning, only 18% of parents became more strict with screentime limits.

Overcoming Digital Stress

Although the internet never sleeps, we must find ways to turn-off our brain from thinking about what the world-wide-web is doing while we rest and regroup.

As a parent, it's easy to preach to children to shut-down their devices, stop playing video games or turn-in their phones at bedtime. What about adults? How are you handling your daily digital detox?

5 Ways help cope with online fatigue:

  1. Set boundaries for yourself (and stick to them). Especially if you have co-workers that frequently call, email or text you afterhours (and expect responses), let them know you are unavailable at certain times. This isn't any different than giving your child a phone contract and letting them know these are their limits. Of course there may be exceptions, but try to limit them to have a healthy tech relationship.
  2. Re-evaluate your social media feeds. Are you following people, groups, things that are stressful or make you anxious? Maybe they are filled with negativity that could ruin your mood? Take time to unfollow, clean-up and adjust your social feeds to be more selective.
  3. Create daily device free-time. This really is possible. Whether it's while your are eating or spending time with your family or a friend, put your phone in another area so you're not tempted to check-it. Be sure that everyday you have taken time that is off-line from any technology.
  4. Limit your notifications on your devices. Everytime you hear a ring, beep, whistle or any type of noise from your gadget, this can trigger your stress level. Whether it's a text message, Instagram notification or letting you know YouTube was just updated -- it's time to go into your settings and select 3 (in my opinion) notifications that are most important to you. You will be amazed of how much this helps. It's a great tip to pass on to your kids too.
  5. Being social, offline. It's time to start mingling in person again (cautiously and carefully). Whether you join an excercise class or walk your neighborhood, get outside and meet people. Having digital relationships is nice, however there no replacement for old-fashioned face-to-face friendships.


The Internet and the Pandemic: PEW Research Center - September 1, 2021