Independent Research, Published at "The International Journal of Scientific Research in Engineering and Management"
Abstract - The pandemic of COVID-19 has had a profound impact how humans go about their daily lives. With people being confined to homes, with less physical and outdoor activities, with increased communications and collaboration across digital platforms, human race has entered an unprecedented era of sedentary and physically secluded lifestyle. One community that is impacted in more ways than understood is the student community. Student health and development (physical and mental) depends on a lot of factors like sports, exposure to different environments, participation and collaboration in group activities, home environment, parents, siblings and teacher interactions, academics and many more. Students in the COVID-19 world are deprived of many of the developmental aspects mentioned above and are over exposed to home environments, possibly more parent/sibling interactions, digital interactions with teachers and getting drawn towards more social media and gaming platforms to stay connected with friends. The recency and relevance of this global phenomenon prompted this research to understand the impact of virtual lifestyle on student’s mental health. Research is conducted through online survey, one-on-one interviews and applying an AI Model to analyze student’s mood during online sessions within a controlled group of students from 9th to 11th standards across different schools in India.
This research shows that one third of the survey population shows ELEVATED levels of Anxiety or Depression amongst students during this COVID-19 pandemic. with the female population being more vulnerable than the male population. A third of the surveyed students have seen deterioration in their academic performance with over 40% gained body weight during these sedentary times where they are spending on an average 9 hours per day in front of computers. About a quarter of the survey population experienced ELEVATED levels for both Anxiety and Depression which signifies a systemic student mental health issue during this pandemic. Students with ELEVATED levels of anxiety and depression when compared to students with LOWER levels of anxiety and depression show significant differences in their academic performance, body weight, sedentary hours per day and time spent on social media/video games. One-on-one Interviews with the survey participants have revealed that Parents and Teachers play significant roles in contributing to Student Mental Health in either aggravating or remediating students’ anxiety and depression levels. Self-confidence, time management and physical activities are identified as key tools that students can leverage to improve their mental health.