Most parents think COVID lockdowns damaged their child’s social skills

New survey shows that nearly three quarters feel their children were lonelier than ever before in 2020.

NEW YORK — While many kids would probably say they loved not going to school for a year during the coronavirus pandemic, their parents see a bigger problem with 2020’s quarantine. A new survey finds seven in 10 parents believe spending a year in lockdown will have a lasting impact on their child’s growth and development.

The OnePoll survey of 2,000 parents with children between two and 18 years-old looked at what parents are saying about their kids after spending the majority of 2020 cooped up inside. Of the 69 percent who say they’re worried about their children in lockdown, the top concern is that it’ll be more difficult for their child to connect with people in-person in the future (52%).

Commissioned by The Genius of Play, the survey reveals parents also feel it’ll be more difficult for their child to play (44%) or make friends (44%) after being separated from their peers for so long. Another 68 percent of the parents believe their child’s social skills were stunted as a result of spending much of 2020 in isolation. It turns out isolation is a major problem parents have identified during the pandemic.

Parenting never harder thanks to COVID

covid impact on childrenMore than seven in 10 parents (72%) also believe, during 2020, their child was lonelier than ever before. In fact, 58 percent of parents said they were also lonelier than ever. Overall, 79 percent of parents feel 2020 was the most difficult year ever for their family. Another 65 percent say that parenting was harder than in any other year.

To mitigate these feelings, parents are trying to get their kids to play more. Three in four respondents say they’ve encouraged their child to play more to balance out their loneliness. Seventy-six percent of the poll say playing with their child has been a positive escape from the reality of the pandemic.

“2020 was a year unlike any other that produced a lot of stress for families. Luckily, one of the key benefits of play is its ability to reduce stress and generate positive emotions in kids and parents alike. What’s more, research shows that toys can help kids develop emotional resilience and nurture social skills such as empathy,” says Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives at The Toy Association, which spearheads The Genius of Play, in a statement.

Is there any silver lining from quarantine?

covid impact on childrenWhen asked what positives they’ve seen as a result of spending more time at home over the past year, the top response was being able to spend more time playing with their child (46%). Other positives include their child playing more with siblings than in the past (42%) and parents themselves playing more than they have since they were children (42%).

Due to the pandemic however, 78 percent of parents say even playtime has changed over the last year. Kids now spend more time playing with others using virtual platforms like Zoom (45%) and also play alone more often (41%).

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