Psychological effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on children and families in the UK

Evren Morgül, Angeliki Kallitsoglou, Cecilia A. Essau

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The implementation of measures (e.g. school closure and social distancing) to contain the spread of COVID-19 by government in numerous countries has affected millions of children and their families worldwide. However, the consequences of such measures on children’s wellbeing are not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to examine the psychological impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on primary school children and their families
living in the UK. A total of 927 caregivers with children aged between 5 and 11 years completed an online survey which included a set of questionnaires to measure their own behaviour and emotional state as well as that of their children before and during the lockdown. Caregivers reported changes in their children’s emotional state and behaviours during the lockdown. The most frequently reported child symptom was boredom (73.8%), followed by loneliness (64.5%) and frustration (61.4%). Irritability, restlessness, anger, anxiety, sadness, worry and being likely to argue with the rest of the family was
reported by more than 30% of the caregivers. During the lockdown, children spent significantly more time using screens, and less time doing physical activity and sleeping. Moreover, family coexistence during the lockdown was described as moderately difficult. More than half of the caregivers reported being moderately or seriously distressed during the lockdown and caregiver level of psychological distress was significantly related to child symptoms. The findings emphasised the importance of developing prevention programmes to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children’s and their
family’s psychological wellbeing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRevista de Psicología Clínica con Niños y Adolescentes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2020

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