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Social isolation during COVID-19 could impact children's well-being

Researchers are worried about how young ones will handle extended time alone

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Photo (c) SanyaSM - Getty Images
While many consumers are struggling to adjust to life at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study is exploring the effect that stay-at-home orders could have on children. 

Researchers from Flinders University found that a lack of social interaction during this time could have a negative impact on kids’ overall well-being. 

“Play is a key aspect of children’s well-being from their perspectives,” said researcher Jennifer Fane. “The closure of playgrounds, schools, and the fear and worry associated with being in public spaces has likely had significant impacts on children during this time.” 

Effects of social isolation

The researchers interviewed preschool-aged children for this study as a way of learning firsthand how long periods of time at home -- and away from their classmates and friends -- has affected them. 

The researchers emphasized that nationwide closures and limitations are necessary for consumers’ health and well-being, but it’s also important to be aware of how this time can affect young children. 

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this study is how aware children are of how their typical day-to-day activities have shifted. While children of this age are used to answering to their parents and following their rules, the pandemic has provided another set of rules that has limited what they’re allowed to do even further. 

The study revealed that children, even at this young age, are aware of how little independence they have and how their opportunities to try new things have been limited. 

“Young children interviewed in the study told us of the importance to their lives of trying new things and having a say about play,” said researcher Colin MacDougall. “As the world takes baby steps to ease these life-saving restrictions, and move into an uncertain future, we must take the time to think about very young children.” 

Important to stay active

Though typical playtime activities are halted for the time being, other recent studies have highlighted the importance of keeping kids active during this time. Building in time for children to engage their playful side, while also engaging in physical activity, can keep their spirits high while still at home.  

Moving forward, the researchers hope that these findings can be beneficial for both parents and government officials as they work to find ways to best suit kids’ needs. 

“As children return to school, and life starts to resume as it did pre-COVID-19, focus and attention to children’s opportunities for play -- and their ability to exercise reasonable ‘agency’ during this time of significant transition -- are two key aspects that can support their well-being during this difficult time,” said Fane.  

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