Lack of physical activity, significantly increased screen time and disrupted social life have considerably impacted children’s lives during the pandemic. The findings of a study conducted by Fortis Hospitals Mumbai between August and October 2021 reveal that 95 per cent of parents believe that the pandemic has impacted their kids’ physical, emotional, mental and social growth. Doctors agree that it’s a matter of concern but say that children also show a lot of more resilience in comparison to adults.
For the study, teams at Fortis Hospital, Mulund and Kalyan, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, and SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, reached out to about 8,000 parents from the city, wanting to understand the impact of the pandemic on their children’s wellbeing.
Dr Jesal Sheth, senior consultant-paediatrician and Dr Sameer Sadawarte, head- PICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, said the survey took into account age of children, their time on electronic gadgets, physical activity, nutrition and food habits, sleep time, and emotional behaviour.
“We must understand that the pandemic cannot continue to impact our lives, especially the growth of our children,” they said, adding that as life slowly limps back to normalcy, we must try to involve our children in safe physical and social activities. They said it’s important to stay alert to any changes they exhibit.
The study also highlights that nearly 52 per cent of parents believe their kids are experiencing attention deficiency. Dr Asmita Mahajan, consultant neonatologist and paediatrician at SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, a Fortis associate, said that many children were burdened with unaddressed mental health issues. She said too little investment is being made by stakeholders to address these critical needs.
Dr Gurudutt Bhat, consultant-paediatrician from Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, said mental health is a part of physical health and cannot be viewed otherwise. “Going forward, we urge parents to understand their kids’ physical, nutritional, mental and social needs to help them overcome the issues they face during the pandemic,” he said.
Dr Subash Rao, consultant-paediatrics, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi, said there is a need to understand that children are very impressionable in their growing years. Research clearly states that childhood experiences, whether traumatic or happy, shape their personality and thinking.
Dr Rao said, “As schools will be opening shortly for all grades, it is important to teach children Covid-appropriate norms for their well-being. It’s also important that teachers and parents create the right milieu and confidence so that the kids accept school-going with ease.”
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