Childhood has been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Carefree playdates, team sports, and school have been off the table or strictly online for many of the world’s 2.2 billion children, replaced by isolation, boredom, family stress, and worry. What will be the consequences?
Children have weathered disasters before, so researchers know plenty about the risks as well as the potential for recovery. For example, after flooding in Buffalo Creek, West Virginia, killed 125 people in 1972 and left more than 4,000 homeless, children suffered anxiety. Boys became “belligerent.” Young kids who’d been toilet-trained started having accidents again. The problems were worse if several family members and friends had died, or if the family atmosphere was gloomy, violent, or unsupportive.