Parents depressed by COVID-19 have negative impact on kids' education, well-being: study

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CHICAGO, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Parent depression and stress early in COVID-19 pandemic negatively contributed to young children's home education and anxiety, according to a study posted on website of University of Michigan (UM) on Tuesday.

The 405 participants recruited for the study lived throughout the United States and had at least one child aged 12 and younger. Most parents indicated their children used online tools for at-home education, including educational apps, social media and school-provided electronic resources.

About 35 percent of parents said their child's behavior had changed since the pandemic, including being sad, depressed and lonely.

Due to school closures and ramifications of social distancing measures, it's not surprising that parents were more involved in daily caregiving activities, the researchers said. One in four parents reported an employment change related to the pandemic.

These changes impacted parents' mental well-being. Two out of every five adults met the criteria for major depression and at least moderate anxiety, which were negatively associated with their perceived preparation to educate at home, the study shows.

Parents also reported high levels of daily schedule disruptions, as well as stressors such as lack of access to free and reduced-price school meals.

"Overall, study results suggested that parents' mental health may be an important factor linked to at-home education and child well-being during the pandemic," said Shawna Lee, UM associate professor of social work.

"One implication is that the return to school may be challenging for many families. Schools may need to consider providing services to address students' mental health issues and the aftereffects of stress and trauma resulting from social isolation and economic uncertainty during the pandemic."

Two positive outcomes were that parents hugged and showed more affection to their children and ate meals with their kids.

One limitation of the study is that 70 percent of the sample was white, middle-income parents, said Lee.

The findings have been published in the March issue of Children and Youth Services Review. Enditem

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