Research on COVID-19 is relatively scanty because the topic is new; the disease broke out in 2019 in China. Therefore, researchers are still focusing on various aspects of the disease to bring about adequate knowledge, such as about the impact of social distancing policies, created to curtail its spread on children’s socialization process and other aspects of life. The outbreak of the new coronavirus disease in 2019 has changed the daily lives of many populations around the world. One of the main reality is the creation of policies by governments globally to stop the spreading of the highly contagious disease, such as the closure of schools, working from home, and cessation of travels, locally and internationally. Therefore, the current review of literature focuses on the effect of the policies and the disease in general on various aspects of life, as well as the gaps in research on the impact of children’s socialization process.
Evidently, COVID-19 has changed lives around the world and affected populations in considerable ways, such as the minimization of socialization. Fegert et al. (2020) conducted a study to establish the impact of the disease. In their study, they identified the impact of the epidemic as the isolation, contact restrictions, and economic shutdown following policies implemented to stop the spread of the virus. They further revealed that the factors have considerable implications on the psychosocial environment and the mental health of many individuals, including children and adolescents. The article suggests that although the social isolation policies could have positive effects, such as personal growth and family cohesion, because of staying at home, they are more harmful than beneficial. The isolation is likely to cause anxiety, lack of stress regulation opportunities, and lack of peer contact, which supports positive socialization. Besides mental health challenges in children and adolescents, parental mental health is also at risk, increasing the opportunity for domestic violence and child maltreatment. Fegert et al. (2020) indicate that some groups are at a greater risk of negative mental health outcomes, such as individuals with disabilities, trauma experiences, and preexisting mental health issues, as well as those from low socioeconomic status and migrant background.
More research has focused on the details of the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on children and adolescents. Phelps and Sperry (2020) take a similar perspective as Fegert et al. (2020) in investigating the effect of COVID-19 and related policies on the wellbeing of children. Most of them are out of school to curtail the spread of the disease. Phelps and Sperry (2020) reveal that the COVID-19 issue has changed the daily routines of children globally. The study focuses on the closure of schools, which occurred in various school districts as a result of the outbreak of disease. Similar to Fegert et al. (2020), Phelps and Sperry (2020) suggest that children’s mental health is negatively affected, especially in the area of trauma. Consequently, children lack the primary center for trauma-informed care and support, which occurs mostly at school. The article concludes that children are in worse danger of mental health issues due to the closure of the school and lack of appropriate socialization.
Numerous studies have focused on the effects of children being away from school on their psychological wellbeing. Fantini et al. (2020) investigate the topic with critical implications on children in the short- and long-term, which is the possibility of schools reopening following closure to prevent the spreading of COVID-19. The authors identified that among the measures in place to stop the pandemic, which broke out in Wuhan, China, was to close schools because of the inability to maintain social distancing among children and adolescents. Fantini et al. (2020), just like Fegert et al. (2020), Phelps and Sperry (2020) argues about the need to reopen schools carefully without creating a greater risk to community. They suggest that one of the effective mechanisms is a phase of gradual lifting of social isolation measures, including reopening of schools. Considering the negative effects of closure relating to the social and emotional wellbeing of children, countries should establish measures to ensure that they continue with schooling without creating a worse danger to children and society.
Reopening of schools remain a major challenge for governments around the world. Like Fantini et al. (2020), Vogel and Couzin-Frankel (2020) suggest the need to take cautious steps when making the decision to reopen schools. The study emphasized on the uncertain role of children in the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly since the majority are out of school as a result of the social distancing policies. Parents could be eager to have schools reopen, but research remains limited in relation to the implications of reopening schools before the spread of the disease is contained. Fantini et al. (2020) supports the view by arguing that although reopening of schools might be necessary, the government should first ensure the safety of children and communities. Vogel and Couzin-Frankel (2020) add that children are infected and affected by the virus, suggesting the need to understand the short- and long-term effect of the pandemic on their wellbeing, as well as the role of children in the whole crisis.
COVID-19 affects people in all parts of the world. Vilar-Compte et al. (2020) conducted their study on the impact of the pandemic in Mexico. While Fegert et al. (2020) and Phelps and Sperry (2020) studied the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents specifically, Vilar-Compte et al. (2020) concentrated on the effect of social distancing policies on families. The study also diverted from the mental health effect to study the emergence of undesirable socioeconomic challenges following the outbreak of the disease. However, like Fegert et al. (2020), the article indicated that the negative effects of COVID-19 are worse in some populations than others. For example, the negative socioeconomic outcome of the pandemic are worse for vulnerable populations, especially who depend on informal employment, compared to other families with income from formal employment. The article further indicates that the socioeconomic of the pandemic affect the wellbeing of households, particularly those with young children, who may experience long-term effects. The authors further made recommendations for the government, focusing on the actual cost, of taking adequate actions to shield families from the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 and social distancing policies.
Research focuses on the various areas of the wellbeing of children and society in general that the COVID-19 pandemic affects. Sinha and Kaleem (2020) studied a relatively new area of study, the limitations in the area of diagnosing children with COVID-19, which could eventually affect their health and wellbeing. Considering that the virus is new, taking its toll more on adults than children, diagnostic tools in children are considerably limited, demanding the need to conduct more research on the potential of reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in testing COVID-19 in children. Just like other researchers have indicated uncertainty regarding the course and effect of the pandemic, diagnostic capability is another area that should be studied well to protect children through timely testing and diagnosis. Current research supports the utilization of high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scanning for adult patients, but for children the test lacks adequate support of viability. Therefore, medical experts should provide more evidence in this area to save the lives and improve the wellbeing of children.
Besides the need to develop effective testing for COVID-19 in children, researchers point to the need to protect vulnerable populations from the negative effect of the virus. While Sinha and Kaleem (2020) focused on the diagnosis in children, Price et al. (2020) revealed that some populations are at a higher danger of the disease due to underlying conditions. The article revealed a heightened risk in individuals with autoimmune diseases. Such individuals have compromised immunity, which makes their bodies unable to fight infections. They become vulnerable to various types of infections, including COVID-19. One such population is individuals with rheumatic disease, who should be identified and shielded from COVID-19. Health care workers and other members of society should strive to protect individuals with such diseases from getting in contact with the virus, which can cause death or severe disease process. Price et al. (2020) identifies the challenge involved in the management of COVID-19 in most-at-risk individuals because of underlying conditions. The study affirms the need for social isolation, regardless of its negative effect on socialization.
Besides COVID-19, the world struggles with other types of infections, which requires attention from the healthcare system. Infections, such as influenza, affect both children and adolescents with detrimental effects on their health and wellbeing. However, in the wake of COVID-19, attention, and resources have been diverted, placing efforts to deal with the flu at risk. The article, “Influenza Season Quietly Took a Toll” reveals that the death toll from influenza this season could be worse because all government and health care efforts and resources are diverted to dealing with COVID-19. Unfortunately, even flu is a fatal disease that requires adequate attention to save lives, including those of children. While in the past, the government and health care workers focused on the disease, the COVID-19 season has created a challenge. Thus, there could be more deaths from flue during this period compared to previous seasons.
Research suggests the need for effective interventions to help children to recover from the mental health impact of COVID-19. Fegert et al. (2020) mention the need for comprehensive support for children, including a regular and emergency child and adolescent psychiatric treatment to help the affected individuals to overcome the negative mental health outcomes of COVID-19. The authors reveal that support is necessary to prevent the long-term implications of the pandemic. The article also mentions the possibility of using telehealth models to provide the necessary intervention during the era of the pandemic to continue social distancing. Phelps and Sperry (2020) take a similar perspective, suggesting the need for schools to implement comprehensive plans for addressing possible mental health needs of children when children open. The recommendation suggests the need for schools to take the lead role in intervening to help children to overcome the long-term effect on their mental health and socio-emotional development. However, since schools might take long to reopen, they can use available models, such as telehealth, to provide immediate interventions.
Research is growing in the area of COVID-19 and its impact around the world. However, some gaps in the current body of knowledge emerge that require to be addressed by conducting more studies on the pandemic and related policies to curtail its spread. For example, more research is necessary to establish the effect of the pandemic on socialization among children and adolescents. Besides, regardless of the current research on the mental health effects, the evidence is still lacking on the actual mental health outcomes. For example, researchers have not explored the actual mental health diseases that are likely to emerge from social distancing and other aspects of the disease. Therefore, additional research is necessary to fill the current gaps in knowledge.
Title: “The impact of social distancing policies on children’s socialization in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The Purpose of a Literature Review. A literature review allows the researcher to establish what others have already done on the topic. They identify the points of agreement and disagreements among past researchers, intending to have a personal perspective in the study. Besides, a review of literature helps to identify gaps in research or the need to expand the current knowledge through further research.
Keywords: Social distancing, children’s socialization, Covid-19 pandemic”,
Definition of Terms
COVID-19: The new coronavirus is a contagious virus that was identified for the first time in China towards the end of 2019, but has rapidly spread to the rest of the world.
Social Distancing: a term used in public health, suggesting a set of non-medical approaches or measures meant to curtail the spreading of an infectious disease by reducing the number of people in contact with each other.
Socialization: the act of mixing socially with other people during activities, such as play.
Mental health: it is the level of psychological wellbeing or a state of not having a mental illness. It involves someone functioning optimally in psychological processes.
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Fegert, J. M., Vitiello, B., Plener, P. L., & Clemens, V. (2020). Challenges and burden of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic for child and adolescent mental health: a narrative review to highlight clinical and research needs in the acute phase and the long return to normality. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Mental Health, 14(1), 1–11. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.1186/s13034-020-00329-3
Influenza Season Quietly Took a Toll: While the world is focused (justifiably) on the COVID-19 pandemic, influenza recorded one of its most widespread and lethal seasons, killing an estimated 24,000 Americans, including 162 children. (2020). RT: The Journal for Respiratory Care Practitioners, 33(2), 15.
Phelps, C., & Sperry, L. L. (2020). Children and the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.1037/tra0000861
Price, E., MacPhie, E., Kay, L., Lanyon, P., Griffiths, B., Holroyd, C., Abhishek, A., Youngstein, T., Bailey, K., Clinch, J., Shaikh, M., & Rivett, A. (2020). Identifying rheumatic disease patients at high risk and requiring shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical Medicine, 20(3), 256–261. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.7861/clinmed.2020-0149
Sinha, I. P., & Kaleem, M. (2020). The role of pulmonary CT scans for children during the COVID-19 pandemic. BMC Medicine, 18(1), 1–2. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.1186/s12916-020-01647-1
Vilar-Compte, M., Pérez, V., Teruel, G., Alonso, A., & Pérez-Escamilla, R. (2020). Costing of actions to safeguard vulnerable Mexican households with young children from the consequences of COVID-19 social distancing measures. International Journal for Equity in Health, 19(1), 1–3. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.1186/s12939-020-01187-3
Vogel, G., & Couzin-Frankel, J. (2020). Children’s role in pandemic is still a puzzle. Science, 368(6491), 562–563. https://doi-org.libproxy.troy.edu/10.1126/science.368.6491.562