This pandemic is taking a toll on children as much as it is on the adults and stress of pandemic on kids is the same as on the adults. Pandemic has introduced obstacles for the parents as well the kids who are spending more time on screens. Depriving children from play time, spending time outside and into physical and psychological activities can hinder not only their growth but also their future skills and abilities. Data from validated questionnaires that assess paediatric mental illness was used in a report published in July in Psychiatry Research on paediatric mental illness in China. In the surveyed population, at baseline, depression and anxiety together had a prevalence of 13.4 percent. This grew to around 40 percent during COVID in two different tests. In 22.6 percent, depression alone was present and anxiety in 19 percent of the school-aged children surveyed.
Another major effect of the pandemic on kids is increasing incidents of the dry eye disease. For children older than 3 years of age, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests restricting screen time to 2 hours a day, whereas the average U.S. child spends more than 5 hours a day during the pandemic on computers. We know intuitively that this triggers dry eye, and there was a strong correlation between increasing screen time and objective symptoms of dry eye among nearly 1,000 children surveyed, according to at least one well-done study in Korea. Since we know that dry eye is a life-long, progressive condition, lifelong effects can occur for these children.
The stress of pandemic on kids doubles when they have to study online. Staring on a small screen and listening through speakers deprive a child of the multisensory feedback required for good learning. Ask any educator. A combination of physical activity and concentrated attention is required for elementary-age children. Intermittent social contact with peers stimulates motivation and encourages the brain to learn new ideas. All you need to do is watch the gestures of a children’s classroom on a Zoom call. Their repetitive motion shows you that their eyes and ears are everywhere except for their classes.
Children ought to be outside. A strong inverse association between dry eyes and kids spending time outdoors was seen in the Korean study mentioned above, with those having more outdoor activities having less dry eyes. “According to Louv, children with less unstructured outdoor play time have a tougher time walking on rough surfaces, a greater occurrence of attention-deficit disorder, depression and anxiety, less endurance, and less imaginative problem-solving abilities. The behavioural scientist Richard Louv has written extensively on a condition called “nature-deficit disorder. In other words, having kids outside is now more important than ever.
There is great need to address these psychological and physical needs of kids.