Online Learning Distractions at Home

By Sandy Botros - Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy 2025

Dealing with the unanticipated challenges caused by COVID-19 has significantly impacted students all across the world. Universities have paused in-person classes, while students have started a whole new phase of online learning. While this protects students and helps reduce the spread of the virus, it still negatively affects student education. Many face challenges when learning online, including distractions when studying or attending classes at home. A main source of distraction is digital technology.

While electronic devices are required for online learning, they easily steal attention for long periods of time. Most students will hold their phones or leave them on their desks while studying. There is no doubt that during this time a text message from a friend can start a conversation that results in totally ignoring an assignment. Sandy Botros Blog 1Students might open new tabs to watch a fun video or scroll through social media threads. To overcome this challenge, students are encouraged to put all devices out of sight while working and build a solid time management schedule to organize their studying, socializing, and free time.

In addition to electronic devices, background noises can be a huge obstacle when it comes to online learning. In fact, sitting in a silent environment often emphasizes background noises even more. Television, family members, pets running in the house, or siblings listening to loud music can all be sources of interruption. However, distractions are not limited to those inside the house. Outside noises like kids playing in the street, neighbors having parties, loud cars, and barking dogs can draw attention away from school. Even weather can be a distraction! Imagine a strong wind blowing through the trees or a loud thunderstorm with rain. All these noises (and more) can end up disrupting students and affecting their study. A pair of headphones can minimize noise and help students stay on task.

Indeed, where and how we study can be a source of distraction as well. Some students wear comfortable pajamas while laying on their beds with laptops to watch class lectures. This can be a problem for concentration because humans mentally associate the bed with resting. Sandy Botros Blog 2Even when studying at a desk, just looking at a bed affects student attention and interrupts focus. Likewise, kitchens can raise even more
problems! If the kitchen is close to the student’s studying area, the student may feel hungry whenever they look at the kitchen, and may end up going back and forth to grab food and eat. Preoccupation with food can disturb studying or cause a student to miss part of class. This problem can be solved by trying to slowly train the brain to separate school time from resting and eating time. Also, a student might grab a light snack before class starts or even before starting an assignment. 

Different students face different challenges at home. Nevertheless, students can conquer these challenges through time management when they create and follow an organized daily schedule. In addition, motivation is an important key to success. Thinking about the grades they will earn, the prospect of graduation, and starting a new career after finishing school can help inspire students to keep on track with their assignments. Also, students may reward themselves after spending a certain amount of time studying or attaining good grades.

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