Impact of lockdown on young children is studied by psychologists

Friday, 24 July 2020

Baby-development-800x450

The impact of social distancing and lockdown on children’s development is the subject of a new study led by psychologists at Oxford Brookes University.

The environment in which children grow up is key to their cognitive development including language and behaviour, and closely linked to their achievement later in life, health and wellbeing.

But experts believe that quarantine measures during the COVID-19 pandemic might have a knock-on impact on parenting styles and children’s sleep, social interactions, screen use, and time spent outdoors.

At this time of unforeseen and ongoing change, it is imperative to understand the impacts of the lockdown during a critical period for children’s development.

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Oxford Brookes University

The study, which has been undertaken in collaboration with researchers at the University of Leeds, University of East Anglia, University of Oxford and University of Warwick and funded by UK Research and Innovation, will assess around 600 children aged 8 to 36 months of age across the UK who have been monitored since the start of lockdown at the end of March.

Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Oxford Brookes, who is leading the 18-month-long study, said the research would help future policy makers decide how to reduce the impact on children’s development in the event of further lockdowns.

She said: “At this time of unforeseen and ongoing change, it is imperative to understand the impacts of the lockdown during a critical period for children’s development. For example, an 80% viewing increase of children’s TV programmes was reported by the BBC.

“Focusing on cognitive development, this project will provide a comprehensive analysis of the effects of social distancing on young children. This is vital for identifying the best ways to support families as we move through the crisis.

“With further periods of social distancing likely to be imposed in the near future, our findings will identify approaches that mitigate the temporary loss of formal early years education, identify those groups most at risk of adverse consequences, and inform policy on how to minimise the impacts of lockdown post-COVID-19.”