Video calling is on the increase to help people feel connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. An Edge Hill University cyberpsychology expert explains why many are suffering from ‘Zoom fatigue’ as a result.

Picture of Dr Linda Kaye
Dr Linda Kaye

With social distancing and remote working measures being observed, colleagues, families and friends are using platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp and HouseParty for virtual get togethers or work meetings.

Dr Linda Kaye, Senior Lecturer in Psychology has been hearing that more people are starting to feel exhausted from the plethora of these video meetings and explains why.

“The term ‘Zoom fatigue’ is the buzzword being coined at the moment, and there are a number of possible explanations for this,” she said.

“One reason may be that most video calling platforms will include the user’s own camera view on the call screen. It is likely that this is enhancing our self-awareness to a greater level than usual, and therefore resulting in us making additional self-presentational efforts than in face-to-face interactions in the real world.

“Another explanation for fatigue may simply be from technical restrictions and our inability to be able to fully use the usual array of social cues and non-verbal communication. Within video calls, the bandwidth of social cues is much narrower, and we have to pay additional attention to others’ behaviour to enable us to monitor social interactions effectively. These extra attentional efforts can become tiring over time.

“And then of course, it could simply be a volume issue. Without the need to travel and be co-present in various locations, we have greater capacity to schedule in meetings and chats within our lives. Therefore we may be over-scheduling ourselves simply based on the fact we have more time available.”

Dr Kaye offers some tips to overcome fatigue:

  • Where possible, schedule breaks between work-related meetings.
  • Try to keep boundaries between taking work-related calls and social ones.
  • If there is the option, use the screen to view others’ rather than your own self-view.
  • Consider how many people really need to be included in one video chat. Fewer people may make the social negotiations easier and less demanding than larger meetings.

Dr Kaye’s research specialism is in the area of cyberpsychology, exploring how online settings can promote social inclusion and well-being.  Her areas of interest include social identity and stereotypes in digital gaming; online behaviours and how this relates to perceptions and processing; and gender issues in stigmatised settings.

For more information about her work and courses on offer within the Department of Psychology, visit www.edgehill.ac.uk/psychology/.