Physical and mental well-being of children suffers in lockdown
Fewer classes and more time in front of screens.
The first Corona Lockdown in spring 2020 has already influenced the well-being and behavior of children and young people. This was the result of two surveys, initiated by scientists at Leipzig University Medical Center, in around 700 families from the region. The results have recently been published in the journals "Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology" and "Plos One".
Children are rarely affected by serious courses of COVID-19, but suffer from the measures of contact restrictions. Things they take for granted, such as going to school and daycare, family gatherings and children's birthdays, have been impossible or limited for more than a year. As part of the LIFE Child study, researchers at Leipzig University Medical Center surveyed a total of 700 families during the first lockdown in spring 2020 about their well-being, the implementation of homeschooling and their leisure activities.
"Daycare and school closures, as well as contact bans to curb the Corona pandemic, primarily affect the youngest members of our society. Insights into how these measures affect the well-being and health of children and adolescents will help to better adapt future measures to the needs of families," explains Dr. Mandy Vogel, a scientist at the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, on the relevance of the two surveys.
The experts found that children and adolescents were significantly more concerned about their families' health than their own. The percentage of study participants who believed things would never be the same as they were before the COVID-19 pandemic increased from 7 percent to 16 percent from the end of March to the end of April 2020. During this period, the number of children and adolescents who had no contact with their peers during their free time quadrupled. Eighty percent missed face-to-face contact with friends. Overall, physical as well as psychological well-being was lower than in the year before the pandemic.
An average of two and a half hours of homeschooling among elementary school children
A significant drop in interactive activities - for example, crafts or board games - was observed in the leisure time behavior of children between the ages of one and ten. Media use was very high both at the beginning and in the middle of the first lockdown, especially in socially weaker families. Screen time exceeded the recommended maximum of 30 minutes per day for nearly 50 percent of preschoolers.
With regard to homeschooling, although most parents expressed that their children were motivated and able to focus on their schoolwork, this was not the case for all families. However, this percentage was significantly lower among families from lower social classes. Moreover, motivation decreased significantly from the beginning (46 percent) to the middle of the first lockdown (34 percent). The average daily time elementary school children spent on schoolwork was only about two and a half hours, illustrating that homeschooling can in no way replace face-to-face instruction.
Dr. Tanja Poulain, a scientist at the Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, says: "Measures against a pandemic must be weighed against potentially negative effects on the health and education of children and young people. So concepts are needed that minimize the risk of infection without simultaneously jeopardizing educational opportunities and well-being."
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)