The COVID-19 pandemic is undeniably affecting children in different ways and perhaps, one of the best ways to decipher its impacts on your child is by knowing its effects to a number of kids.
In a special report written by Sarmishta Subramanian of Maclean‘s, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to children were enumerated, basing on the statements of a number of experts–and these might help you deal with your kid amid the ongoing crisis.
“Other studies have concluded kids spread the virus less than adults, and still other studies say kids transmit at the same rate as adults. So how much should we worry? In the absence of data and scientific consensus, children remain a kind of black box,” she wrote.
“We are, likewise, in the dark about what this crisis might mean for them psychologically and emotionally. How could we not be? We don’t know how long the pandemic will last. We don’t know if normal life—or some form of it—will resume….It’s hard to predict the long-term effect of this period on children, hard to engineer a solution that is stress-proof for them,” she added. “The prospect of economic recovery—parents returning to jobs, businesses staying open, supply chains reactivating, money flowing, food on the table—rests on those small shoulders.”
‘Equivalent to War’
Quoting San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge, who studies generational patterns and differences it was noted, “The coronavirus outbreak is equivalent perhaps to World War II in its impact.”
Twenge–who wrote the best-seller iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood*–said that pandemic life reinforces some patterns for a generation already more accustomed to virtual life and dealing with higher levels of anxiety, though behaviours could also go the opposite way post-pandemic.
The implications of pandemic life can also be dramatic for some, it was highlighted.
For refugees who have escaped political violence in Latin America or fled domestic abuse in Nigeria, the sense that the world is unsafe again can revive old traumas, according to Mariana Martinez Vieyra, a counsellor and coordinator of refugee mental health services in B.C. at the non-profit Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture.
“They say, ‘I feel as if I’m in jail again.’ At the same time, some parents have got very comfortable staying cocooned. Hiding has been the strategy to survive in the past, so some parents are not letting the children out of the house,” she explained.
‘Denied of Real-world Connections’
Suniya Luthar, an American academic whose research for decades has centred on kids, feels for a generation denied its real-world connections to peers.
“It’s just heartbreaking to think of the physical contact, the hugs, time with teammates,” she expressed. A lot of their camaraderie and support, not to mention, for older kids, romance, comes from physical contact and proximity.”
‘Kids’ Experiences Depend of Parents’
The kids’ experiences, as in any family, depend on the parents’. For some, this is cherished time together; while other kids are stuck indoors with none of the frills that ease life in quarantine. Martinez Vieyra highlighted, “One thing that refugee children present is difficulty in moving beyond the family unit and trusting other adults.”
Meanwhile, child psychologist Stacey Schell explained, “Trauma is really about someone’s response to an event. For some kids this might end up being traumatizing and for others it might not.”
Survey to Understand Kids
To find out the variety of experience and the changes in family life, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is launching a project surveying 6,000 children and families over the next nine months; through a real-time data-gathering exercise that relies on new recruits and subjects from four existing research groups.
The children will be surveyed monthly on their dietary habits, physical activity, sleep, screen time, and how they feel: Are they sad, irritable, anxious? How is their concentration? (Their parents will be surveyed, too.)
“I’m looking to see how these kids fare over time,” said the project’s head Daphne Korczak. “How did they fare on the return to school? Are there differences? How can we understand kids who come in with higher risk vs. kids without known higher risk? And how can we use that information to plan for the future and to support them?”