New report shows restricted childhood and interrupted youth due to covid
22 May 2023
Higher levels of anxiety and boredom and decreased well-being among children and young people during the pandemic. But also, positive results with less stress in some groups. Overall, research shows notable differences in the impact of the pandemic. Those are the findings of a new study mapping the research in the area.
The report Restricted Childhood, Interrupted Youth – Research observations on participation of children and youth in education and leisure during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Nordic countries brings forward research perspectives on children and young people’s varied experiences during the pandemic, for example on learning environments or results, and possibilities to meaningful leisure activities.
Little research on involvement
The report found little research on the actual involvement of children and youth in decision making. More opportunities could have been provided for young people to participate in the design of their studies during the pandemic.
The report is written by researchers Alix Helfer, Viola Särkiluoto and Sinikka Aapola-Kari from the Finnish Youth Research Society as well as Jakob Trane Ibsen from Vive – The Danish Center for Social Science Research. The report is published by the Finnish Youth Research Society and commissioned by The Nordic Welfare Centre.
The researchers have compiled findings from research done during the pandemic years in 2020-2022 in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, including relevant studies in Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.
Higher levels of anxiety
The study found a lot of research on education, on how children feel about their schooling, or how students in higher education have been affected; whether their learning or motivation has suffered and about their levels of anxiety and mental health. Surveys of teachers’ and pupils’ views and immediate feelings concerning distancing measures in schools showed worrying trends.
School closures in the Nordics often lasted longer for older students, which has had consequences on mental wellbeing. In some studies, results indicate higher levels of anxiety and burnout and decreased wellbeing among students.
Some pupils felt less stressed
However, the study also reveals contradictory results. There were both negative and positive consequences.
In some countries, there were positive findings concerning online learning. Further, studies of medium-term effects on learning did not show a dramatic decline in students’ or pupils’ performance.
– Concerning short-term impact, we found several studies that reported positive findings for some aspects of the lives of children and youth. Some pupils and students felt less stressed, says Jakob Trane Ibsen, Chief Analyst, VIVE – The Danish Center for Social Science Research and one of the researchers behind the report.
Big differences in impact
Across the Nordic region, there are notable differences in the impact of the pandemic for different groups, both across regions within countries, and across gender and cultural and social groups. Vulnerable groups generally experienced a decline in learning, mental health or social connectedness.
– The negative effects of the crisis are particularly felt by children, young people and families who have already been in a vulnerable position. The different life situations of children and young people must also be considered in the management of the crisis. Special attention needs to be given to the diversity of views and experiences, says Alix Helfer, researcher, the Finnish Youth Research Society.
Part of a big project
The report is the follow-up to the report Children And Young People’s Participation During the Corona Pandemic – Nordic Initiatives. The first report gives an account of the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic during its different phases and Nordic initiatives to safeguard the rights of children and young people. Both reports are part of the project Nordic Cooperation on Children and Young People’s Opportunities for Participation and Development During the Covid-19 Pandemic, together with the report Child and youth participation during crisis – Recommendations for decision makers in the Nordic region.
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