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

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

Key messages

  • Social isolation and loneliness continues to be a growing concern for children and young people in general.  Wider literature suggests that it is the duration of loneliness, rather than its intensity, that is most strongly related to poor outcomes.
  • Stress and anxiety appears to be higher in older children (teenagers), and girls in general. Some research indicates higher levels of anxiety and depression in young people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.   
  • There is evidence that children in families with low incomes are spending less time on home learning, and have fewer resources both from their schools and in their own homes.  Evidence suggests that parents on lower incomes appear to be less confident and/or willing to return their children to school, and want the primary focus of schools when they reopen to be on emotional support and wellbeing.  
  • Surveys of parents with children impacted by disability or special educational needs are consistently reporting a drop in formal and informal support, and increasing concerns about children's wellbeing and family income.
  • A number of studies indicate the need to make messaging about COVID-19 more relevant for young people.
  • Research is showing that some children and young people want to play an active role in supporting pandemic-related efforts, and that they want more information from government that is tailored to them. 
  • There is mixed evidence on the experiences of virtual service provision, with practice appearing to be very variable across the UK.  Some children and families appear to be engaging well (e.g. contact with birth parents is working better for older looked after children but much less so for very young children) whilst others are experiencing problems with digital access, and safeguarding and privacy issues.  Virtual services appear to be more successful where there are good pre-existing relationships.



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