There has been an enormous impact of the COVID-19 on a global scale. While the physical effects on children are negligible, the same cannot be said for the state of the children’s mental health. Social isolation and disruption of children’s daily activities play a negative impact on their mental health. Children quarantined due to the sickness or are institutionalized away from their peers and loved ones, are likely to suffer from psychological problems. Children whose parents died from the illness and are taken to foster homes experience loss, loneliness, difficulty and are predisposed to developing a type of stress known as PTSD.
During adversity in childhood (ACE), the body’s normal response to stress may become toxic. The toxic stress results in a chronic increase in cytokines and exposing children to a poor state of health. This stress can lead to cognitive development delays, somatic problems, obesity, asthma, or diabetes, recurring infections, sleep disturbances, and even early death. Simultaneously, children are exposed to social media, where terrible images of sickness and death may overwhelm them with dread, anxiety, and clinginess.
Other important issues during these periods include the closing of schools, the absence of physical and social activities and isolation from friends and loved ones. There was social media intervention during their lockdown at home, but not without its downsides. Those with addiction problems may succumb to Internet and mobile phone addiction and struggle to readjust after the pandemic is over.
School routines are crucial coping techniques for young individuals suffering from mental illnesses. When schools are closed, kids lose a sense of purpose in life, and their symptoms may recur. “Going to school had been a challenge for children with depression before the pandemic, but at least they had school routines to follow,” says Zanoni Chiu, who is a registered clinical psychologist in Hong Kong. “Now that schools are closed, some people have been locking themselves inside their rooms for weeks, refusing to take baths, eat, or leave their beds.” An adjustment will be challenging for confident children suffering from depression.
Children who require special education needs, such as autism spectrum disorder, are also vulnerable. According to psychiatrist Chi-Hung Au (from the University of Hong Kong), their regular habits are interrupted, and they feel dissatisfied and irritable. To alleviate anxiety caused by uncertainty, he recommends parents develop a timetable for their children. With speech therapy and social skills groups halted, he warns that therapy can hinder progress. Due to this, Children in need of close attention may lose opportunities to learn essential skills. He argues that innovative approaches, such as online speaking and social skills training, are required to compensate for the loss.
A study was conducted by the mental health organisation YoungMinds, which included 2111 individuals aged 18 to 25 with a history of mental illness in the UK. The concluded result showed that 83% claimed the pandemic had made their problems worse. Twenty-six per cent claimed they couldn’t get mental health help; peer support groups and face-to-face programs have been cancelled. Such closures imply that children and adolescents with mental health problems no longer have access to the support they usually receive via their schools. In addition, getting help over the phone or online might be difficult for certain young people.
The loss of parent jobs has a direct impact on children. Due to the isolation, the incidence of child maltreatment has grown, and there is a huge lack in the accessibility of children support systems. As a result, argumentative behaviour and even suicide ideation may be viewed as severe.
Social isolation can occur from social distancing techniques in an abusive family, with abuse likely intensified at this period of economic instability and stress. For example, domestic abuse reports to authorities in Jianli County, Hubei Province, China, tripled during the lockdown in February, from 47 to 162 within one year. In addition, during past public health catastrophes, such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, increased child abuse, neglect, and exploitation rates were also recorded.
However, there is no solid evidence about the long-term psychological consequences of large-scale illness from epidemics on children and adolescents. While a considerable study has been conducted on the psychological impact of SARS on patients and healthcare professionals, less is known about the effects on regular residents. Moreover, evidence in children and adolescents is minimal. “This is a critical research gap,” Au added. On a worldwide basis, COVID-19 is far more prevalent than SARS and other outbreaks. As the epidemic continues, it is critical to assist children and adolescents in dealing with grief and difficulties connected to parental unemployment or household finances. Long-term monitoring of young people’s mental health conditions is also required. Also, there should be research into how lengthy school closures, rigorous social distancing measures, and the pandemic influence the welfare of children and adolescents.
Local government agencies should develop and execute intervention programs to assist children and caregivers during these difficult times. Programs for parents should include developing their parenting abilities, being responsive, understanding children, shielding them from unpleasant experiences, problem-solving, and mentoring. Additionally, prolonged exposure treatment, skill-building opportunities, and cognitively-based compassion training for older children, all contribute to the development of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and future aspirations.
Parents need to listen, comprehend, reassure, protect and care for children during these challenging times. Parents are advised to constantly pay close attention to their children and notice any behavioural change. Compassionately informing them about the issue while keeping their innocence in mind will alleviate their fear and help the children overcome this challenging moment. Parents are urged to get form a deep and closer bond with their kids. They should engage in pleasant activities to distract their attention from the pandemic, encourage physical exercise, and help them focused on their favourite hobbies. Parents should ensure they are constantly in touch with their children at all times.
Being connected lessens the impact of this new normal on children and teens and encourages them to continue their lives. However, it also brings with it a new set of problems for every parent. How can you make use of everything the Internet has to offer while avoiding possible harm? On a regular day, it’s challenging to strike a balance, let alone while dealing with a health crisis like COVID-19.
Check that your child’s smartphone runs the most up-to-date software and antivirus software and that privacy settings are enabled. When not in use, keep cameras covered. Parental controls, including safe search, can help keep younger children’s internet experiences positive.
Use caution while using free internet educational resources. Ensure that your child should never be required to give a photo or complete identity. To limit data gathering, remember to check the privacy settings. Teach your youngster the importance of keeping personal information private, especially from strangers.
The best parental control app to monitor kids is Xnspy that allows parents to track and monitor their children’s phone data at any time and from any location.
XNSPY is the best app for monitoring your child’s phone, particularly their social media accounts. With XNSPY’s comprehensive parental control app, you can keep track of your children’s social media conversations, photo sharing, and even video sharing activities. So, you can watch Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Line, and various other instant messaging applications for a small monthly price.
XNSPY is not just an Android parental control app. It’s the best parental control app for kids that parents can use to follow their children’s present position and location history logs.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.
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