Student Well-Being

Is Online Learning Worse Than Being in School? Majority of Teens Say Yes

By Arianna Prothero — September 18, 2020 2 min read
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While teens may often be glued to their phones for recreation, a new poll finds that a large share of them feel they learn better sitting in a classroom with their teacher.

Sixty percent of teens say that online learning is worse than in-person learning, and nearly one fifth say it’s “much worse.”

Even so, the vast majority of teens say they don’t think classes should be taking place fully in person this fall.

The nationally representative survey, from Common Sense Media, found that 42 percent of teens think school should be fully remote and 37 percent feel their school should follow a hybrid schedule. Only 19 percent say classes should take place fully in-person. Common Sense Media is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that studies the impact of technology on children and young people. Common Sense Media partnerned with SurveyMonkey to poll 890 teens between Aug. 20 and Aug 27.

Here’s What Teens Are Worried About

Nearly seven in 10 teens are worried—either somewhat or very—that they or someone they know will get sick with COVID-19 because of in-person schooling.

How worried depends on teens’ race and ethnicity. Eighty-two percent of Hispanic teens said they are worried about getting sick, while only 62 percent of white teens are. Seventy-nine percent of Asian teens and those that fall into other racial and ethnic groups are concerned about themselves or someone they know getting sick and 71 percent of Black students say the same.

Most teens don’t have much trust in their schools taking the necessary steps to keep them safe from the coronavirus. While 30 percent said they trusted their school “a lot,” 52 percent said they trusted their school “a little” and 17 percent said “not at all”.

But teens are also worried about the downfalls of remote schooling, both academically and socially.

Sixty-one percent say they are concerned about falling behind academically because of the pandemic, a fear that is especially pronounced among Asian and Latino teens—67 and 79 percent, respectively.

A little over half are worried they will lose out on scholarships and exactly half are concerned the pandemic will hurt their college or job prospects.

Fifty-six percent say they are very or somewhat worried they will lose connections with their friends.

Those numbers are nearly identical to how teens felt in a survey by Common Sense last March. However, slightly fewer teens now say they feel “more connected than usual” to their family than they did in March (30 percent compared to 40 percent).

In terms of what teens believe will be the biggest academic challenges facing them this year, 42 percent said learning remotely, 37 percent said uncertainty around the pandemic, and 32 percent said emotional upheaval.

Many also say they expect getting access to their teachers and reliable internet will be significant roadblocks to their schooling—around one third and one quarter respectively.

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Image credit: E+/Getty

A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.

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