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Table of Contents
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 98-101

Effect of online classes on physical and mental well-being of students during COVID-19


Amity Institute of Physiotherapy, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Date of Submission01-Oct-2021
Date of Decision20-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance24-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication12-Jan-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Pooja Sharma
Amity Institute of Physiotherapy, Amity University, Noida Uttar Pradesh
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijptr.ijptr_57_21

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  Abstract 


Context: The coronavirus has shut down all schools and universities over the globe. With idiosyncratic upsurge of online learning, nowadays, teaching is undertaken remotely on digital platforms by the use of laptops and mobile phones. Many researches have shown that the excessive or prolonged use of screens can impact mental and physical health. The mental and physical affections include stress, depression, sleep disorders, impact on eyesight, postural pain, hand disabilities, and musculoskeletal disorders.
Aims: The aim of this study is to analyze the effect of online classes on the mental and physical well-being of students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Settings and Design: The survey was conducted on an online mode through Google forms. All gender college-going students within the age group of 18–25 years undergoing online classes for a minimum of 1 month were included in the study.
Subjects and Methods: The assessment of mental health was done using the Perceived Mental Stress Test Scale (Psychological Stress Test) and the Patient Health Questionnaire, whereas for the assessment of the physical health, the Neck disability index, and the Oswestry low back pain disability index was used.
Statistical Analysis Used: Karl Pearson's correlation coefficient was applied to find the correlation between the duration of online classes and stress, depression, neck, and back disability.
Results: A significant effect of online classes was found on the mental and physical health of students, 57.3% of population had moderate stress, 32% of population had mild depression, 48% of population had mild neck pain, and 41.3% of population moderate back pain.
Conclusion: Students' mental and physical health has been affected as a result of longer duration spent online on laptops and phones for classes.

Keywords: Online Classes, COVID-19, Mental Health, Physical Health


How to cite this article:
Sharma M, Sharma P. Effect of online classes on physical and mental well-being of students during COVID-19. Indian J Phys Ther Res 2021;3:98-101

How to cite this URL:
Sharma M, Sharma P. Effect of online classes on physical and mental well-being of students during COVID-19. Indian J Phys Ther Res [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jul 5];3:98-101. Available from: https://www.ijptr.org/text.asp?2021/3/2/98/335669




  Introduction Top


COVID-19 has shut down all schools and universities over the globe. Globally, 1.2 billion children have not been attending classroom classes. The education system has changed drastically, with idiosyncratic upsurge of online learning, and remote learning. Nowadays, teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms by the use of laptops and mobile phones to prevent the loss of academic sessions. In today's life, mobile phones and laptops are playing a major role in modern education. The extensive use of online classes provides easy attainability to course material.[1],[2] Many researches have shown that the excessive or prolonged use of screen time can impact mental health, leading to stress, depression, sleep disorders, etc., as well as have impact on physical health, causing eye strain, postural pain, hand disabilities, and musculoskeletal disorders. Increased screen time is directly associated to depression. Online learning during COVID-19 and academic stress in university students has led to sudden change in the mode of teaching from a traditional mode to virtual framework system which might cause stress in students.[3] The impact of online learning and technology on students' physical, mental, emotional, and social health stated that it causes impact on student self-esteem, personal perceived value, and causes undue stress.[4] The intensity or frequent use of mobile phones could be a influencing factor for many mental health problems in community of university students.[5] A significant positive correlation has been found between the duration of mobile phone use and neck pain severity including increase in the severity of musculoskeletal disorders which places a huge burden on the health-care system.[6]

Literature shows that the rate of depression increased due to intensified activity on any digital devices with a minimum of 3 h/day. In the current scenario, depression is identified as a major risk factor for suicidal tendencies in youngsters. Recent behavioral study concluded that low self-esteem, sorrow, distress, and depression are more in the Internet community. The light emitted through cell phones may interrupt natural sleep cycle leading to sleep disturbances.[7] The causes of sleep disruption, depression, somatic pain, and increased screen exposure pose impactful changes in office workers and students such as sleepiness and increased depressive symptomatology, which is a matter of concern.[8],[9],[10]

Prolonged screen use and gadgets that are not ergonomically constructed have an influence on postural health, including musculoskeletal diseases.[11] It has an effect on the neck, back, and dexterity, and raising awareness about the significance of the disorder is necessary to avoid further issues.[12] Workstations are vital in nonergonomic equipment, and sitting straight with suitable workstations and maintaining optimal posture can help prevent cumulative trauma disorders at the wrist, neck, shoulder, and back.[13] The prevalence of disorder increases, especially with increased use of laptops, with shoulder pain being the most commonly reported musculoskeletal disorder.[14],[15]

According to a survey, only 34–44% of population takes care of their physical health. A correlation between online classes and physical health can be correlated poor posture. The majority of students are unaware of correct body posture, which leads to pain and discomfort. Using mobile phones can affect the neck posture that leads to neck pain. Using laptop while sitting for prolonged time in a chair may also affect posture. Most of these devices are not ergonomically designed to use. There is a need to study the consequence of online classes to know its effect on the mental and physical well-being of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and to spread awareness regarding the same.


  Subjects and Methods Top


The survey was conducted on an online platform through Google Forms. The survey collected demographic details of the respondents based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria. All gender college-going students within the age group of 18–25 years attending online classes for a minimum of 1 month were included in the study. The sitting duration while using a phone or laptop was 4–6 h or above, and they had complaints related to acute neck and back pain. Participants with pathological disease, neurological deficits, or chronic orthopedic issues were excluded from the study. Informed consent was obtained before the commencement of the survey, and a total of 75 participants were recruited.

The online survey form was designed to assess the mental and physical health of students using mental and physical health assessment scales. The form was circulated through online mode and those who were fulfilling the inclusion criteria participated voluntarily in the survey. Four scales, two for mental health and two for physical health, respectively, with well-established validity and reliability, were used to collect the data. For mental health, the scales were Perceived Mental Stress Scale (Psychological Stress Test)[16] and Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ),[17] for physical health assessment, the Neck disability index (NDI)[18] and Oswestry low back pain disability index (OLBDI)[19] were included in the study. Postdata collection, the results were analyzed to understand the effect of online classes on the physical and mental well-being of the students separately.


  Results Top


Statistical analysis was done to find the descriptive characteristics of the sample, and Karl Pearson's correlation coefficient was used to find the correlation between the duration of online classes and stress, depression, neck disability, and back disability. The total sample consisted of 75 (30 males and 45 females) participants. The mean and standard deviation for the perceived stress scale , PHQ for depression, NDI, and OLBDI were 20.45 ± 6.99, 11.10 ± 6.59, 13.36 ± 6.74, and 18.30 ± 6.80, respectively.

On perceived stress test for mental well-being, the majority of the population, i.e., 24% showed high perceived stress, 57.3% had moderate stress, and 18.6% had low stress [Table 1]. The PHQ for depression showed that 8.6% had severe depression, 12% had moderately severe depression, 32% suffered from mild depression, and 7.5% had minimal depression [Table 2].
Table 1: Perceived stress test

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Table 2: Patient health questionnaire

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For physical well-being, the NDI projected 4% with complete disability, 9.3% with severe disability, 38.6% and 41% of population exhibited moderate and mild disability due to prolonged use of mobile or laptops, respectively [Table 3]. On OLBDI, 5.3% reported severe disability, 48% was moderately disabled, and 38.6% had a mild disability due to poor ergonomics while using mobile and laptops which had a direct effect on postural health. Eight percent of the population reported no disability [Table 3].
Table 3: Physical health assessment using Neck disability index and Oswestry low back disability index

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A significant positive correlation was found between the duration of online classes and PHQ, whereas there was no significant correlation between the duration of online classes and stress, neck disability, and back disability [Table 4].
Table 4: Correlation of duration of online classes with stress, depression, neck, and low back disability

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  Discussion Top


The finding of the present study is in accordance with existing literature that suggests prolonged use of screens beyond 3 h a day impacts mental and physical health in terms of eyesight, sleep disorders, stress, depression, and nonergonomically designed devices used for 6 h or more may lead to musculoskeletal discomfort and disorders. A study on usage of cell phones and its effect on health among college students found that headache, stress, and anxiety are the most common mental symptoms, while body aches are the most common physical health issues accounting for 32.19% of the total population.[7] An association was found between smartphone use, stress, and anxiety. In comparison to other mental concerns, the greatest effect of using mobile phones was mental stress.[20] A significant positive correlation has been reported between the duration of phone use and neck pain.[6] The excessive use of mobile phones poses significant health-related issues more specifically over the head-and-neck region, whereas prolonged use of laptop may lead to cervical musculoskeletal dysfunction and overload the back and neck.[21],[22]

Physical exposure from smartphones and laptops while taking online classes necessitates frequent neck movements, and extended sitting has a negative impact on the back and lumbar spine. The disability of neck pain among them could be due to frequent neck flexion posture, and back pain could be due to uncomfortable sittings or unfit furniture to sit on during class, which alters the natural curvature of the cervical and lumbar spine, increasing stress on the spine and causing pain in the musculature. The long-term usage of mobile phones and laptop computers can cause upper back pain, stress, and strain injury. According to the findings of this study, students have moderate stress, mild depression, mild neck discomfort, and moderate back pain, and that taking continuous online classes for more than 6–8 h is one of the causes of rising depression among students.

The mental and physical stress among the students in the current scenario could be prevented by taking preventive measures and controlling the prolonged use of mobile and laptops. Simple lifestyle modifications such as maintaining correct posture during the use of electronic devices and avoiding its unnecessary use could prevent the development of postural issues. Physical and mental exercises may be incorporated as a part of daily routine to reduce the risk of stress and musculoskeletal disorders. The further studies could be done on a large sample size with varied age group to evaluate the long-term effects of online classes.


  Conclusion Top


The physical and mental well-being of the students is a concern, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. The longer duration of using laptops and phones to attend online classes is affecting their mental and physical health. Maintaining proper posture and understanding the impact of the long duration exposure to electronic devices is the need of the hour. Although it may not be possible to avoid the exposure completely in the current times, incorporating simple exercises and postural advices in the daily routine can prevent from long-term adverse effects.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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Abstract
Introduction
Subjects and Methods
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