• Dr Ashutosh Naik

The impact of COVID-19 on the children of today and the adults of tomorrow

Written by Dr Ashutosh Naik, Play Grasshopper Head of Quality

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, as the virus mutates into evermore dangerous strains in its evolution, the opposite is true for human society i.e. involution. What does that mean? Adults the world over have been forced to stay in their homes and limit contact with the outside world, leading to an atmosphere of fear, anxiety as well as emotional and financial stress. This is then transferred to children and magnified in a variety of ways. Human beings are social animals and children in particular require cognitive and social cues in groups that will help them grow. This important aspect of childhood development is now missing for many (1). A recent study indicated that 770 million children have been out of school during the pandemic (2). With the continuing pandemic and changes in modes of teaching, it is difficult to accurately determine how many might actually return to a full day of school in-person again! It is not just a lack of social skills that is worrying but also mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. The impact of restrictive behavioural patterns will likely affect the child’s trajectory into adulthood (1). In a study published two years ago it was reported that a decline in physical activity was seen in children from as early as age 7 and the majority carried this behaviour into adulthood (3). Physical activity is vital for the development of movement, coordination and skills (4). The World Health Organisation recommends 180 minutes of physical activity in children aged 1-5 (4) and emphasises that babies should be physically active several times a day and not be restrained as in prams for more than an hour at a time (5). Another matter of concern is that babies in some countries born after March 2020 have possibly seen only their parents and not yet any other adults so far in their short lives. This is an extremely complex problem that requires out of the box thinking and although sharing physical space may not be immediately possible , connectedness is essential. For if we are not careful and societal involution continues, it could lead to a generation of adults that we might not recognise or understand.

References:

1. Growing Up in a Pandemic: How Covid is Affecting Children’s Development https://www.di rectrelief.org/2021/01/growing-up-in-the-midst-of-a-pandemic-how-covid-is-affecting-chil drens-development/ (Accessed on 09/07/2021)

2. COVID and schools: the evidence for reopening safely https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586- 021-01826-x?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=6cf1914685-briefing dy-20210707&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-6cf1914685-45362562 (Accessed on 09/07/2021)

3. Decline in physical activity often starts as early as age 7 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/ 2019/04/190408113959.htm#:~:text=The%20studies%20using%20self%2Dreported,as%20sev en%20years%20of%20age. (Accessed on 09/07/2021)

4. Is the pandemic affecting children's developm


ent? https://patient.info/news-and-features/is-the pandemic-affecting-childrens-development (Accessed on 09/07/2021)

5. Pandemic babies: how COVID-19 has affected child development https://theconversation.com/ pandemic-babies-how-covid-19-has-affected-child-development-155903#:~:text=The%20lack %20of%20support%20structures,of%20maltreatment%20and%20even%20death. (Accessed on 09/07/2021)