The Influence of Covid-19 on Children’s Mental Health
Lwin-Lwin Moe, Communications/PR Intern at We Grow Green Tech
Day by day, the number of COVID-19 cases has been enormously increasing across the globe.
This unexpected phenomenon has not only brought the disruption of daily routines to millions of billions of populations, but also negatively impacted their lives including adults and children. As of 11 February 2021, there has been 108,296,047 confirmed global cases and 2,378,824 reported deaths. The practice of social distancing guidelines and the implementation of lockdowns have been taken in order to reduce the risk of infection. The closure of businesses, the instability of financial status, and the transition from physical classes are beyond typical experiences of students and their families, contributing to tremendous stress levels.
Due to a sudden change of learning environment, the stress can result in adverse consequences on children’s learning process and their mental health. The absence of building in-person social connections, the engagement in academic and extracurricular activities lead to a higher rate of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Distressing cases such as family members being exposed to coronavirus or passing of beloved ones can bring severe psychological conditions on their well-being.
International and out-of-state students have also been impacted by the travel restrictions, in addition to campus closures which compounds their stress regarding insecure housing. The transition to virtual learning has enabled students to continue education, however, the concerns and stress in terms of technological capabilities and future uncertainties are unavoidable.
The pandemic has not only continuously given a significant increase to cases of mental distress, but it also results in negatively impacting on quality of sleep. The big changes in daily routines and the lack of physical activities have caused the deterioration in sleep quality. Simple student life routines such as preparing for classes, socializing with friends, and participating in extracurricular activities, which were once the best daily schedule have now been disrupted. On account of this, it is visibly clear that the changes in sleep duration: an increase in daytime naps and a decline in night-time sleep, are correlated with mental illness.
In addition to sleep deterioration, an increase in children’s screen time has also become an alarming situation to parents. Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak first hit, the usage of electronics: phones and tablets became the centerpiece of social life. The presence of social activities such as hanging out with friends and enjoying nature was miserably replaced with technology and social media platforms. In the blink of an eye, our entire daily life routines have been changed into virtual equivalents. The heavy use of electronic devices signifies the result of poor socializing and physical development. The more being attached to the devices, the more they get disconnected with nature and social life. It then leads to the causation of an unhealthy psychological status, such as depressive symptoms.
Amidst the times of uncertainty, it is utmost to adopt a healthy behavior to maintain one’s overall mental health. The parental practices and coping techniques play a major role in affecting children’s psychological conditions. It is important for parents to provide support in need of their children. To alleviate the fear of children regarding the situation, parents are advised to provide the information about pandemic and social distancing guidelines such as regularly washing hands and wearing protective masks in order to help minimize their concern. With the opportunities of bonding time, parents can lead to an engagement in indoor activities or the board games for children to avoid spending time on electronics.
Dealing with this kind of rapid change is tremendously burdensome. But there are always ways to cope with the long-term impact of stress and to prioritize mental health.
The release of social distancing rules does not mean that being trapped inside of the house. Outdoor exercises such as enjoying nature, hiking, and going for a walk can assist with mental stresses as well as maintain psychological wellness. Staying active also helps in strengthening the immune system.
In addition to enjoying outdoor exercises, there is an activity that everyone can contribute. It is widely known as plogging where children can help pick up trash while jogging. Even though people may be physically distanced, there is nothing stopping us to take an action for the sustainability goal, for the common good. This activity can also be considered as extracurricular activity outside the classroom, as well as the opportunity to stay in touch with nature.
MaNaBu, one of We Grow Green Tech’s partners is an educational platform that helps childrenn interact with global challenges and empower them to become future leaders for positive change.
In 2020, they organized the Movement in Europe where children helped make sure cigarette litter goes into bins. To eliminate the thoughts of cigarette litter to be harmless and to protect from killing marine life through improper disposal, children were brought together to ensure a sustainable and greener planet by removing cigarette butts and other litter from parks. This allows children to actively participate in community-based actions along with the opportunity to make a constructive impact on themselves and the community regarding the ecosystem.
“Empower young future leaders, today” — MaNaBu Movement
That being said, not only staying connected with friends and family can undeniably help reduce the risk of mental anxiety, but also grabbing opportunities in community involvement can also enhance social development. With all the meetings and gathering become virtual, it is necessary to spend some time to stay in connect with each other, as well as, to give some time to enjoy nature.
The number of Covid-19 cases has spread worldwide, yet it is important to be mindful that difficulties are not permanent, and to take advantage in an efficient way to maintain a better psychological wellness. Through the cooperative approach, the involvement of parents, the connection with friends, and along with self-care tips can help lower emotional distress, and anxiety.
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Tatić, Iva. “MaNaBu Movement to Kick Off in Zagreb on June 20, 2020.” MaNaBu Movement to Kick Off in Zagreb on June 20, 2020, 24 June 2020, www.total-croatia-news.com/lifestyle/44379-manabu-kickoff.