Coronavirus (COVID-19): children, young people and families - evidence summary - December 2020

Summary of Scottish and UK evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the wellbeing of children and young people.

3. Mental health and mental wellbeing

Online in Lockdown: Wellbeing, Bullying, Prejudice (2020)
Source: Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Scotland
Date: 2020

This report focuses on young people in Scotland's experience of lockdown across three areas: emotional wellbeing, online bullying, and online prejudice. The findings report differences by gender and sexuality (LGBT+). Findings are based on data from an online survey which ran during the national lockdown and received just over 1000 responses from young people aged 12-24 across all local authorities in Scotland. 59.3% of respondents were female, and 35.7% of respondents were male. 2.9% of respondents were non-binary. The LGBT+ sample was relatively large at 35% which makes this a valuable (if not representative) source of evidence with regards to this group (see Section 7.8). The total BME responses comprised 0.9%. The key findings are summarised below:

  • There was a significant difference in young people's self-reported emotional wellbeing since lockdown began, with more young people reporting that they would describe their emotional wellbeing as poor:
    • Respondents described their emotional wellbeing as negative during lockdown at a rate of 33% higher than before lockdown (a shift from 18% pre-lockdown to 51% during lockdown).
    • Boys and young men were more likely to report positive emotional wellbeing before the lockdown than girls and young women. During lockdown, the rates for both demographics are broadly similar.
  • Young people generally felt supported with regards to their health and wellbeing during lockdown. That said, 42% felt less supported and over one in ten respondents (13%) had used online support services in relation to their health and wellbeing and 8% had tried to.
  • 47% of respondents have seen or experienced online bullying during lockdown, and over half (57%) of these respondents reported that this had increased since lockdown.
  • Young people have witnessed more prejudicial comments and attitudes online throughout the period of lockdown. These span a broad range of characteristics: with racism, homophobia, and hurtful posts related to body image and physical appearance among the most reported forms of online prejudice witnessed:
    • 59% of respondents had witnessed an increase in prejudice-based posts, comments and/or attitudes online. 45% of respondents had witnessed more racism online while 36% saw an increase in homophobia during lockdown.
  • Whilst rates of online bullying was similar for boys/young men and girls/young women (25% and 23% respectively) there were differences in their experiences:
    • Boys and young men, who had seen and/or experienced online bullying during lockdown, were more likely than girls and young women to think that it had been happening more during lockdown than before.
    • The type of prejudicial comments/attitudes seen online varied by gender, with girls and young women more likely to have witnessed sexism, misogyny and body image comments, and boys/young men more likely to have seen sectarian comments.



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