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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Parental support and positive mood buffer adolescents’ academic motivation during the COVID-19 pandemic

Christel L. T. Klootwijk; Iris J. Koele; Jorien van Hoorn (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
School closures during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 severely disrupted adolescents’ lives. This study used a daily diary method for 20 days, including online and physical school days, assessing daily mood, social support and conflict, and academic motivation in 102 adolescents aged 12–16 years. It found that adolescents’ academic motivation was lower on online compared with physical school days. In general, positive mood was positively associated with academic motivation, and friend conflict related negatively to academic motivation. Moreover, lower levels of parental support were related to lower academic motivation on online versus physical school days. Overall, these findings identified some critical changes in adolescents’ daily experiences during the COVID-19 school closure and social-emotional factors that may buffer decreases in adolescents’ academic motivation.
Emergency department encounters among youth with suicidal thoughts or behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kathryn K. Ridout; Mubarika Alavi; Samuel J. Ridout (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: JAMA Psychiatry

Population-level reports of suicide-related emergency department (ED) encounters among youth during the COVID-19 pandemic are lacking, along with youth characteristics and preexisting psychiatric service use. This study aims to characterize population-level and relative change in suicide-related ED encounters among youth during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with 2019. This cross-sectional study evaluated ED encounters in 2019 and 2020 at Kaiser Permanente Northern California—a large, integrated, community-based health system. Youth aged 5 to 17 years who presented to the ED with suicidal thoughts or behaviors were included.

Adolescent adjustment during COVID-19: the role of close relationships and COVID-19-related stress

Nicole Campione-Barr; Wendy Rote; Sarah E. Killoren (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of research on adolescence
During the COVID-19 pandemic, adolescents' typical social support systems have been disrupted. The present study examined adolescent adjustment during the pandemic (summer, 2020) while controlling for pre-pandemic adjustment (2017-2018) in 170 youth (ages 12-20) from Missouri and Florida. It also examined whether positive and negative relationship qualities with four close others (i.e., mothers, fathers, siblings, and best friends) interacted with COVID-related stress to impact adolescent adjustment. In general, we found that close relationships impacted adolescent adjustment in expected directions (i.e., positive relationships better for adjustment, negative relationships more detrimental), but while mothers and fathers impacted adolescent adjustment in largely similar ways to pre-pandemic studies, influences of relationships with best friends and sibling were more impacted by COVID-related stress.
Becoming a mother during the COVID-19 national lockdown in Italy: Issues linked to the wellbeing of pregnant women

Martina Smorti; Lucia Ponti; Chiara Ionio (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: International Journal of Psychology
The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown represent risk factors for the mental health of pregnant women. This study explored the impact of COVID-19 restriction policies on psychological health, analysing the predictive role of social support on maternal wellbeing. A total of 212 pregnant women recruited from two public hospitals in Italy were divided into two groups: (a) a pre-COVID-19 group composed of 141 expectant women (mean age = 34.6; SD = 4.3) at their third trimester before the national lockdown period; (b) a COVID-19 group composed of 71 pregnant women (mean age = 33.3; SD = 4.5) at their third trimester during the COVID-19 national lockdown.
High parental education protects against changes in adolescent stress and mood early in the COVID-19 pandemic

Sarah Collier Villaume; Jacquelyn E. Stephens; Ednah E. Nwafor (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Adolescent Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought dramatic changes to the daily lives of U.S. adolescents, including isolation from friends and extended family, transition to remote learning, potential illness and death of loved ones, and economic distress. This study’s purpose is to measure changes in adolescents’ perceived stress and mood early in the pandemic. The present study drew from a racially and ethnically diverse sample of high school student participants in an ongoing intervention study in the Midwestern U.S., 128 of whom provided reports of their daily stress and mood both before (December 2017 to March 2020) and during (March–July 2020) the COVID-19 pandemic. We expected to see increases in perceived stress, declines in positive mood states, and increases in negative mood states, with larger impacts on individuals from households with lower parental education levels.

Early adolescent substance use before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a longitudinal survey in the ABCD study cohort

William E. Pelham; Susan F. Tapert; Marybel Robledo Gonzale (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Adolescent Health

The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in early adolescent substance use during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic using a prospective, longitudinal, nationwide cohort. Participants were enrolled in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. A total of 7,842 youth (mean age = 12.4 years, range = 10.5–14.6) at 21 study sites across the U.S. completed a three-wave assessment of substance use between May and August 2020. Youth reported whether they had used alcohol, nicotine, cannabis, or other substances in the past 30 days. Data were linked to prepandemic surveys that the same youth had completed in the years 2018–2020, before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trust and well-being of postpartum women during the COVID-19 crisis: depression and fear of COVID-19

Midori Matsushima; Kanami Tsuno; Sumiyo Okawa (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: SSM - Population Health
During crisis, trust has been found to have a buffering effect in the prevention of the deterioration of mental well-being, as trust is considered to reflect the individual's capability to gain social resources including both formal and informal support. Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, political trust has been found to reduce anxiety. Taking these findings into account, this study explores the association of generalised and political trust with mental well-being on current postpartum women who were particularly at risk due to a decline in social support leaving them an increased burden of caring newborns during the pandemic.
Dispositional mindfulness mediates the relationship between conscientiousness and mental health-related issues in adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tiantian Liu; Zhenliang Liu; Lijia Zhang (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Personality and Individual Differences
The COVID-19 pandemic is seriously affecting the mental health of adolescents and triggering a series of mental health-related issues. The present study investigates the relationships between conscientiousness, dispositional mindfulness (DM), and adolescents' mental health-related issues including anxiety, depression, and perceived stress during this time. In this study, after obtaining informed consent from participants' parents, 5994 Chinese adolescents voluntarily and anonymously completed an online survey.
Network analysis of comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in adolescents across COVID-19 and Typhoon Lekima

Junjun Qi; Rui Sun; Xiao Zhou

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

Network analytic studies indicate that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be comorbid with depression at the symptom level, but it remains unclear whether these findings are replicable and generalizable across trauma types. This study aim was to examine and compare PTSD–depression comorbidity networks of two types of trauma related to Typhoon Lekima and COVID-19.

Changes of psychotic-like experiences and their association with anxiety/depression among young adolescents before COVID-19 and after the lockdown in China

Zhipeng Wu; Zhening Liu; Zhulin Zou (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Schizophrenia Research

Lockdown policies during COVID-19 pandemic have potential adverse psychological impacts on youth. However, little is known about their influence on the changes of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) among adolescents, nor about the possible association between changes in PLEs and changes in anxiety/depression symptoms. This study investigated these two questions through a longitudinal comparative study. In total, 1825 adolescents were surveyed before COVID-19 and after the lockdown in China (T0, October 20th, 2019 and T1, May 18th, 2020). PLEs, anxiety, and depression were measured with paranoia, anxiety and depression subscales of the Mental Health Inventory of Middle school students (MMHI-60). Within-subjects Wilcoxon test, Spearman correlation test, and Kruskal-Wallis test were adopted.

Friend support and internalizing symptoms in early adolescence during COVID-19

Esther L. Bernasco; Stefanie A. Nelemans; Jolien van der Graaff (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: ournal of Research on Adolescence
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment and social relationships across the world. This prospective longitudinal study examined whether internalizing problems during the pandemic could be predicted by precrisis friend support, and whether this effect was moderated by the time adolescents spent with their friends and COVID-19-related stress. 245 Dutch adolescents (Mage = 11.60) participated before and during COVID-19. Higher pre-COVID-19 friend support predicted less (self-reported and parent-reported) internalizing problems during COVID-19, and this effect was not moderated by the time adolescents spent with friends or COVID-19-related stress. Friends may thus protect against developing internalizing symptoms in times of crisis. We also found the reverse effect: Internalizing problems before COVID-19 were predictive of friend support during COVID-19.
Chinese adolescents’ coping with COVID-19: relationships with emotional maladjustment and parental reactions to negative emotions

Zeyi Shi; Qian Wang

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
Two hundred and thirteen Chinese adolescents (103 females; mean age = 12.18 years) completed a survey one year before (Wave 1) and five months after the COVID-19 outbreak (Wave 2). Path analysis revealed that after controlling for adolescents’ emotional maladjustment at Wave 1, perceived parental supportive reactions to adolescents’ negative emotions at Wave 1 predicted adolescents’ greater use of approach coping and less use of avoidance coping at Wave 2, which in turn, was associated with less emotional maladjustment at Wave 2; conversely, perceived parental nonsupportive reactions at Wave 1 predicted adolescents’ greater use of avoidance coping at Wave 2, which in turn, was associated with greater emotional maladjustment at Wave 2. The findings were similar for mothers and fathers.
Peer connectedness and pre-existing social reward processing predicts U.S. adolescent girls’ suicidal ideation during COVID-19

Emily A. Hutchinson; Jennifer S. Silk; Stefanie L. Sequeira (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
There is major concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adolescent suicidal ideation (SI) and peer relationships. This study investigated (1) rates of SI and (2) the extent to which peer connectedness and pre-existing neural activation to social reward predicted SI during the initial stay-at-home orders of the pandemic (April–May 2020) in a longitudinal sample of adolescent girls (N = 93; Mage = 15.06; 69% White non-Hispanic). Daily diary and fMRI methods were used to assess peer connectedness and neural activation to social reward, respectively. Nearly 40% of girls endorsed SI during the initial stay-at-home orders. Greater peer connectedness and neural responsivity to anticipated social reward were associated with a reduced odds of SI during the pandemic among girls.
Positive and negative online experiences and loneliness in Peruvian adolescents during the COVID-19 lockdown

Lucía Magis-Weinberg; Christopher L. Gys; Estelle L. Berger (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
Global COVID-19 lockdowns have disrupted adolescents’ in-person social networks, increasing likelihood of loneliness. Social media can help adolescents maintain and develop peer relationships across distance. In this short longitudinal study with 735 Peruvian adolescents (ages: 11–17) from low-to-middle-income urban settings, we investigated whether online experiences relate to loneliness during initial stages of lockdown. Loneliness remained constant between week 6 and 11 of lockdown, was higher for females and similar across school-grades. Positive and negative online experiences were more frequent for older students, and females experienced more negative online experiences than males. Greater positive online experiences related to lower loneliness, with the reverse pattern for negative online experiences. Our results suggest that positive online experiences may mitigate loneliness during physical isolation.
#Grateful: longitudinal associations between adolescents’ social media use and gratitude during the COVID-19 pandemic

Anne J. Maheux; Jacqueline Nesi; Brian M. Galla (et al.)

Published: August 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some ways of using social media—such as directly communicating with friends—may have helped adolescents thrive. This study examined longitudinal associations between high school adolescents’ social media use and gratitude across a 15-month period before and during the pandemic (n = 704, Mage = 15.10; 52% girls). The trajectories of gratitude and the importance of social media for meaningful conversations with friends—but not frequency of social media use—were positively associated over time. At the within-person level, gratitude predicted increased importance of social media for meaningful conversations, but not vice-versa. Findings suggest that gratitude may be associated with and may motivate using social media to foster social connection, but may not increase overall social media use.
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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.