A study of 1,000 kids aged 13 and 14 in England found their anxiety levels dropped when in-person school closed. Reports the BBC:
Researchers compared findings from a survey taken in October last year to answers given by teenagers in May this year. Both girls and boys recorded decreased levels of anxiety during that timeframe.
In October, 54% of 13 to 14-year-old girls and 26% of boys of the same age said they felt anxious.
When surveyed in May – several weeks after schools shut to most pupils and nationwide lockdown restrictions came into force – the proportion dropped to 45% of girls and 18% of boys.
While these results had some folks — including the researchers — scratching their heads, Let Grow conducted a study and we, too, found that kids had not grown more anxious, even though they were experiencing a pandemic. As Let Grow co-founder Dr. Peter Gray writes on his Psychology Today blog:
Overall, children’s psychological well-being seemed to improve after school closure.
Some may be surprised by this conclusion, but those who have been attending to the increased stressfulness of school, with so much focus on drill and testing and with reductions in recess and other creative activities, should not be surprised. Specific findings supporting this conclusion include the following:
49% of the children agreed with the statement, “I have been more calm than I was in regular school,” and only 25% disagreed. The rest were neutral.
Likewise, 43% of the parents agreed with the statement, “My child is less stressed now than before school closed,” and only 29% disagreed. The rest were neutral.
The reasons for this newfound calm are no doubt many: More sleep, less testing pressure, no commuting, maybe even better eating. But we also think that the increase in children’s independence has played a role. Bored kids started finding new things to do, just for fun. Their busy or preoccupied parents had almost no choice but to let them. No one can entertain or micromanage a kid 17 hours a day.
And so we’re hearing about is more self-direction, even quirkiness, and kids doing more activities their parents might have overseen or restricted before: bike-riding, cooking, roaming.
Covid’s silver lining could be kids newly discovering things they love and are good at — a world opening up even as it was shutting down.