Impact of COVID-19 on school children

Impact of COVID-19 on School-Going Children

  • By Optbetter
  • Thursday, 23rd Sep 2021
  • 0 comments
  • Education

More than 200 days of lockdown since January 2020, – one of the highest in the world. And, the same number of days away from school is challenging in Melbourne for kids under 14. Kids have been using electronic media for years in school but to study 100% over the Internet is a different challenge for kids and parents. We are passing through the age of digitalization and school education isn’t an exception to it. 

Five-year-old learning alphabets on iPad for full school time can prove stressful for kids and parents in the long run. The impact of online education on kids has dimensions based on age and family circumstances. Let us examine the impact of COVID and the subsequent online education wave that came in, on kids and young people. 

COVID pact on School Kids in Australia

The Kids Helpline and the Australian Human Rights Commission jointly came up with a report that talked about the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people who connect with the Kids Helpline. According to the report, 2,567 children and young people touched the helpline.

Mental Health Concerns

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the minds of people across the globe. Australia isn’t an exception to it. A lot of people have suffered from various mental and emotional problems. These problems are diverse in nature. While those from 18-25 were scared of contracting the disease, for those from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands, it was the changes to essential services and support that were trouble. 

As a result, mental health concerns topped the list for people from five to ten years, 11-14 from cities and inner regional areas from various culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Social Isolation

The pandemic restricted everyone to their homes, thus disallowing people from meeting each other. That resulted in social isolation. Many who were used to meeting friends, family, and partying were left in despair due to the ban on social gatherings that COVID-19 resulted in.

Education Impact

The world continued with education through online learning. Australia too joined the wagon. However, one cannot discount the educational impact of COVID. The closure of schools to avoid the spread of the infection was a significant hit. Kids of parents who could afford online education haven’t suffered as much (although yes, they’ve developed a range of other problems, which we will discuss further). But those who couldn’t have remained deprived of education for a long time.

Family Life Impact

Affected family life was another significant concern. Some probable ones in this category could be anxiety in children, the tension in parenting relationships or general fear, arguments and conflicts over financial problems, etc.

Routine Changes

Again, this is pretty much related to the lockdowns that the pandemic resulted in. Kids who used to indulge in outdoor activities, games, art classes, etc., had to either give up learning or resort to online learning, which perhaps, in many cases, hasn’t proved as effective.

Key Areas for Government Action

We do not know for long will we have to live with the pandemic. However, while living with it, we must resolve its challenges and maintain social and emotional balance. Accordingly, the report highlights a few critical areas for the government to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact. It includes the following.

  • Investing in mental and health services and support focused on child and youth
  • Providing support to schools and other educational institutions to deliver quality online learning and maintain help and connection for vulnerable students
  • Promoting accurate, clear, and child-friendly information and resources
  • Prioritizing services for young people and vulnerable kids
  • Providing economic support to the needy youth and families
  • Making skill development and youth employment a focused recovery area
  • Involving children and youngsters in pandemic response and recovery plans 

(Statistical and key action areas excerpts taken from https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/childrens-rights/publications/impacts-covid-19-children-and-young-people-who-contact-kids)

General Impact of Online Education on School-Going Kids

Lack of Physical Movements/ Exercise

The progression of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns in Australia compelled everyone to stay at home. While some parts of the country are easing the restrictions a bit, most of its other regions yet continue to observe a lockdown. The result of all these restrictions is reduced physical movements and exercise for both children as well as adults. 

Children, particularly while at home, and because they cannot move around or play outdoors with other kids, have resorted to playing games, watching videos and movies on smartphones and laptops. Many of them, when off-screen, has developed excessive eating habits. With reduced physical movements and lack of exercise, concerns such as obesity, eye disorders, lethargy, reduced flexibility, etc., lurk ahead and will prove a severe confrontation.

Psychological Impact/ Challenges

School-going children have suffered, and in fact, continue to suffer emotionally as well. With too many online activities, many have hampered their inherent abilities; one of the most crucial is taking up challenging assignments. 

Additionally, screen learning has easily distracted kids’ attention and focus. Many of them have reported misusing screen time by playing games, watching movies, chatting, etc. All these factors have reduced their learning productivity and increased screen addiction to a massive extent. Some have become obsessed with gadgets! 

Reduced Social Interaction

Many children have lost touch with society. The lockdowns have restricted their social interactions to online video calls. Many of them, especially those who began learning during the pandemic, are unfamiliar with in-person social interactions and unaware of outdoor games. For them, their home is their world, and everything else is virtual. 

Ignorance Toward Academic Learning

Children and parents have become used to online education. But it has impacted learning. Initially, everyone enjoyed online learning and considered it an alternative to traditional learning. However, after almost 19-20 months after the pandemic’s onset, children have started expressing their dislike toward it. Many of them have begun bunking online lectures, ignoring learning, and preferring to indulge in other online activities that intrigue them.

Children are spending a lot of time with their parents, and which is a positive sign. However, schools and parents also must collaborate to come up with solutions to reduce the negative impact and make children’s time in their homes meaningful, productive, and positive enough for them to learn from it and enhance their personalities.

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