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Are Children Still Feeling The Effects of The Lockdowns?

It has now been two years since the Covid-19 struck. In that time, lockdowns and quarantines were put into effect in numerous countries around the globe.

While these measures are meant to protect us from the virus, there are concerns about their long-term effects on children. indian parents with their daughter

How will these measures impact children's physical and mental development? Are there any other potential consequences that we have not yet considered? What can be done to help mitigate these risks and ensure that our children are able to thrive despite these challenges?

The Psychological Effects Of COVID Lockdowns On Children

It seems like an age ago that the first reports began to trickle through about this new virus and the measures that would need to be taken to protect us all.

For children, these measures likely came as a shock - suddenly, their way of life was turned on its head and with very little guidance, let alone warning...

No more playdates with friends or trips to the park. No visits to grandparents or extended family members.

Lessons moved online and any/all extracurricular activities were cancelled because it was believed that being the little "germ factories" we all know them to be, they could increase the risk of spreading the virus.

The lack of human contact and opportunities to play, explore, or express themselves in a creative way have undoubtedly had an impact on children’s emotional wellbeing.

As well as feeling isolated from their friends, many kids were struggling with underlying anxiety about the pandemic and its potential effects.

The prospect of losing family members, the potential disruption to their education, as well as an overall feeling of uncertainty about the future were all causing increased levels of fear and stress.

The Physical Effects Of COVID Lockdowns On Children

Physical effects were not only felt by the children unlucky enough to have caught the virus, but by all children that were put in an environment where they suddenly had less physical activity.

With schools closed, parents working from home and more time spent indoors, this posed a number of instabilities to the health of younger population.

The lack of physical exercise has been linked to an increase in childhood obesity, as well as other physical problems such as weakened immune systems and poor sleep patterns.

How Are Children Coping Two Years After The End Of The Last Lockdown?

On 19th July, 2021 most restrictions were lifted in the UK and things slowly began to return to "normal" for most of us. However, the landscape has forever changed - in some cases, children have learnt to cope with certain changes while others are still struggling to come to terms with the disruption that came along with the pandemic.

The effects of the lockdowns on children’s physical and mental health are varied, but it is clear that many are still feeling the lingering impact – both positive and negative – two years later.

The research available is still unfortunately limited, however, speaking to children and teenagers up and down the country, the long-term effects of lockdown are slowly becoming clearer.

Social Development:

We are fortunate enough to be living at a time where communication technology is so advanced that we are able to stay connected with people all around the world.

This has been hugely beneficial in helping children maintain relationships with their friends, extended family and other acquaintances during the pandemic.

However, it has also created a virtual bubble for those who have become too comfortable living within their own devices rather than engaging in meaningful conversations and activities with the people around them.

The need to interact socially is still very much there, yet some children have struggled to go back out into the real world and form genuine connections with those around them because that is somehow seen as harder than that which is experienced through a screen.

At the same time, many children have overcome such obstacles and are making up for lost time in terms of both physical and mental playtime with their peers.

Mental Health:

The state of one’s mental health can be hard to gauge, but certainly there are countless children who were affected by the pandemic and who now need extra support and attention.

It seems the lack of socialisation and physical activity has led to feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as an increase in anxiety levels.

The idea that quite literally everything can change at the drop of a hat has been incredibly hard for some children to comprehend and these feelings of instability have been difficult to shake off.

The psychological effects of the pandemic on children are yet to be fully realised, however it is clear that much more needs to be done in terms of understanding the long-term impact of the lockdowns on our youngest citizens.

Education:

The entire education system (for the UK, at least) was flipped on its head during the pandemic.

As mentioned earlier, with a majority of classes moved online, and with thousands of children still unable to attend school full-time, the access to education for some has been completely disrupted.

Apart from lack of access to learning materials, many children who had just started secondary or higher education have seen their curriculum changed or rearranged, leaving them feeling confused and overwhelmed.

Older children hoping to take important further education exams in 2020/2021 have suffered considerably as a result of the cancellations, with some students even having to postpone their university plan for another year.

In Summary

The psychological effects of lockdown has been hard on children and adults alike.

The physical effects of lockdown have been well-documented, but the psychological effects are yet to become fully-realised and understood.

It is clear that the lockdowns have had an impact on children’s mental health, social development and education, with some still struggling to come to terms with the disruption two years later.

As parents, the best thing we can do is to keep an eye on our children and provide them with the support if/when needed - only then, can we start to truly appreciate the long-term effects of lockdown on our younger generations and begin to understand how best to help.

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