Publication - Research and analysis

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

Published: 24 Nov 2020

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

Coronavirus (COVID-19): impact on children, young people and families - evidence summary October 2020
4. Physical health and wellbeing

4. Physical health and wellbeing

COVID-19 and Children's Play

Source: Play Scotland

Date: 2 Sep 2020

This briefing written on behalf of the UK Play Safety Forum covers the risk to children from outdoor play deprivation, the risk to children from COVID-19, the risk of transmission of infection to adults by children, and the transmission of COVID-19 via outdoor surfaces. The relevant findings are summarised below:

  • The paper states that evidence on the risks posed by play deprivation is growing. The paper refers to a Canadian paper that describes a sharp reduction during COVID-19 restrictions in physical activity, outside time, and an increase in sedentary behaviour.
  • The evidence on transmission of COVID-19 on outdoor playground surfaces is still inconclusive, with most evidence suggesting that the likelihood of transmission in this way is low.
  • The briefing recommends that play providers should be aware of the risk averse nature of safety advice and consider this in deciding upon proportionate approaches aimed at providing the best outcome for children.

These findings, whilst informative, should be read in conjunction with the wider evidence base and COVID-19 restrictions in place in Scotland, which may be different from other countries. The PHS CEYRIS survey[4], for example, found that most children (81%) had played outside most days in the week before the Survey (July); although it also found that about a third of children spent less time outside than before lockdown. Additionally, the Survey found that a large proportion of children had, had no social interactions with peers during lockdown and as restrictions were eased (online or otherwise), and that only a third of children had visited a greenspace in the week before. This survey will be re-run in November to monitor the impact of return to school/childcare and new restrictions on children's play including outdoor play.


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