Scientists explain video-conferencing fatigue

A new study from Stanford University has investigated the effects on our health of extended spells of video-conferencing. Researcher and communications expert Jeremy Bailenson dubbed the phenomenon "Zoom fatigue," but acknowledged the condition is not restricted to just that platform. In the past year, most of us have spent extended periods of time online using an array of video-conferencing platforms. The coronavirus pandemic has meant tools like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts have been the only way we have been able to see and chat to loved ones. Many companies have relied heavily on video-conferencing for meetings, and educators have used them to teach their lessons online.

Mr Bailenson outlined several factors that make video-conferencing so fatigue-inducing. He said it is not just tiredness and eye-strain from staring at a computer screen for hours and hours. It is also brought about by "cognitive overload" and feeling pressure to be perpetually switched on. We constantly feel we need to be in touch with friends or available for bosses, customers or students. Bailenson cautioned this leads to burnout and stress and can heighten your chance of developing moderate to severe depression. He said this anxiety can adversely affect your self-confidence. This is because of the large number of faces staring at you in meetings. Bailenson likens this to the stresses of public speaking.