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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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1 - 15 of 45
Internet use during COVID-19 lockdown among young people in low- and middle-income countries: Role of psychological wellbeing

Blossom Fernandes; Bilge Uzun; Caner Aydin (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Addictive Behaviors Reports
Problematic internet use in adolescents has been shown to significantly increase over the past few years, with COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns reinforcing this phenomena globally. This study sought to explore whether problematic internet use in specific countries was related to emotional well-being and importantly whether this is predicted by psychological distress. There is a growing number of studies showing that problematic internet use is increasingly prevalent in countries with emerging economies, however we have yet to find out to what extent other factors are influencing this behaviour in adolescents and young people. This study invited young people from countries such India, Mexico, Philippines and Turkey to complete a set of self-reports on their daily internet habits, social media use, alongside questions on psychological distress, self-esteem, loneliness and escapism.
Cybervictimization and well-being among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic: The mediating roles of emotional self-efficacy and emotion regulation

Fabian Schunk; Franziska Zeh; Gisela Trommsdorff

Published: October 2021   Journal: Computers in Human Behavior
Cybervictimization has been linked to adverse psychological consequences but little is known about the mechanisms linking cybervictimization to lower well-being. Two studies examined emotional self-efficacy and distinct emotion regulation strategies as potential mediators in the relationship between cybervictimization and lower well-being among German adolescents during the school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. In Study 1, 107 adolescents (Mage = 15.76) reported their cybervictimization frequency, emotional self-efficacy beliefs, and aspects of well-being (i.e., self-esteem, perceived social support, and subjective well-being during the COVID-19 related school closures). Emotional self-efficacy mediated the link between cybervictimization and all well-being measures. Specifically, cybervictimization was related to lower well-being through lower self-efficacy for managing negative emotions. For further examination, in Study 2, 205 adolescents (Mage = 15.45) were asked to report their cybervictimization experiences, use of specific emotion regulation strategies (rumination, reappraisal, and suppression), and well-being (i.e., self-esteem and life satisfaction).
Children’s screen and problematic media use in the United States before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lauren Eales; Sarah Gillespie; Reece A. Alstat (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Child Development
This mixed methods study examined parent-reported child screen media use before and during the COVID-19 pandemic by examining 2019–2020 changes in parent perceptions of media, screen media use (SMU), and problematic media use (PMU) in children aged 2–13 years (N = 129; 64 boys, 64 girls, 1 nonbinary; 90.7% White, 4.6% Hispanic/Latino, 0.8% Black, 8.5% multiethnic; primarily middle-to-high income). Quantitative analyses showed a significant SMU and PMU increase (medium effect size). There was a steeper increase in PMU among school-age (older) children. Together, the qualitative and quantitative results suggest that the PMU and SMU increase were influenced by distal, proximal, and maintaining factors including the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning, child behaviors, other children, parental mediation, and positive media reinforcement.
Effectiveness of disseminating school physical activity information on Facebook during a pandemic: a mixed-method analysis

Allison Ross; Jendayi Edmeade; Tyler Prochnow

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of School Health

Social media is an important communication tool during times of crisis because of its vast reach. Understanding the effectiveness of sharing public health guidance and promoting schoolchildren's physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic can inform dissemination best practices. This study classified 418 posts from parent/community members of a school-based physical activity Facebook group by content type, and used concurrent mixed methods to examine (1) differences in dissemination effectiveness (reactions, shares, and comments) between two pandemic phases and (2) themes and sentiments of comments. Phase I included school closures through the release of national school re-entry guidelines (March 1, 2020 – May 15, 2020) and Phase II extended through the school year start (May 16, 2020 – August 1, 2020).

Physical distancing messages targeting youth on the social media accounts of Canadian public health entities and the use of behavioral change techniques

Sheryll Dimanlig-Cruz; Arum Han; Samantha Lancione (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: BMC Public Health
Physical distancing (PD) is an important public health strategy to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and has been promoted by public health authorities through social media. Although youth have a tendency to engage in high-risk behaviors that could facilitate COVID-19 transmission, there is limited research on the characteristics of PD messaging targeting this population on social media platforms with which youth frequently engage. This study examined social media posts created by Canadian public health entities (PHEs) with PD messaging aimed at youth and young adults aged 16–29 years and reported behavioral change techniques (BCTs) used in these posts.
Internet addiction and psychosocial problems among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study

Fatma Ozlem Ozturka; Sultan Ayaz-Alkaya

Published: September 2021   Journal: Archives of Psychiatric Nursing

This research was conducted to investigate the prevalence of internet addiction and psychosocial problems and associated factors among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Turkey. The population was composed of 9th and 10th grade students. The sample consisted of 1572 participants. Data were collected from parents of the students through a questionnaire, the Pediatric Symptom Checklist, and the Parent-Child Internet Addiction Test.

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.
Social disconnection during COVID-19: the role of attachment, fear of missing out, and smartphone use

Natasha Parent; Kyle Dadgar; Bowen Xiao (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence:
This mixed-methods study explored adolescents’ (n = 682) feelings of social connection in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and examined potential risk (fear of missing out, problematic smartphone use) and protective (parent/peer attachment, smartphone use) factors to social disconnection. Data were collected from two schools in Canada using an online survey with questionnaires and open-ended questions. Three themes regarding adolescents’ feelings of social connection during the pandemic were identified through thematic content analysis: (1) feeling socially connected, (2) feeling socially disconnected, and (3) feeling socially indifferent. Moreover, regression analysis identified secure peer attachments as a protective factor against social disconnection in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, while fear of missing out was identified as an independent risk factor.
COVID-19 instructional approaches (in-person, online, hybrid), school start times, and sleep in over 5,000 U.S. adolescents

Lisa J. Meltzer; Jared M. Saletin; Sarah M. Honaker (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Sleep

This study aims to examine associations among instructional approaches, school start times, and sleep during the COVID-19 pandemic in a large, nationwide sample of U.S. adolescents. Cross-sectional, anonymous self-report survey study of a community-dwelling sample of adolescents (grades 6–12), recruited through social media outlets in October/November 2020. Participants reported on instructional approach (in-person, online/synchronous, online/asynchronous) for each weekday (past week), school start times (in-person or online/synchronous days), and bedtimes (BT) and wake times (WT) for each identified school type and weekends/no school days. Sleep opportunity was calculated as BT-to-WT interval. Night-to-night sleep variability was calculated with mean square successive differences.

Caregivers’ sources of information about immunization as predictors of delayed childhood vaccinations in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional questionnaire study

Leena R. Baghdadi; Marwah M. Hassounah; Afnan Younis (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Risk Management and Healthcare Policy
Of 628 women, 11.8% (n = 74) were pregnant at the time of survey. Most of the pregnant women (89.2%, n = 66) had some degree of concerns about their unborn babies getting infected during delivery in the hospital. Among mothers of children under 10 years of age (n = 564), half (n = 282) reported change in their children’s behavior during the lockdown. Most mothers and pregnant women (94.9%, n = 569) had some degree of psychological distress. Mothers and pregnant women with a college degree had significantly lower psychological distress (β = -1.346; p = 0.014) than women with a high school education or less. Similarly, mothers and pregnant women with monthly family income ≥ US$ 1,333 had lower psychological distress than those with < US$ 1,333. Women with pre-existing chronic physical (β = 2.424; p < 0.001) or mental (β = 4.733; p < 0.001) conditions had higher psychological distress than those without these conditions. Having children in the house was a contributory factor for higher psychological distress. For example, mothers with one child (β = 2.602; p = 0.007) had significantly higher psychological distress compared to expectant mothers without children in the house.
Mobile technology usage in early childhood: pre-COVID-19 and the national lockdown period in North Cyprus

Nihan Koran; Bengü Berkmen; Ahmet Adalıer

Published: August 2021   Journal: Education and Information Technologies
COVID-19 has affected North Cyprus since the beginning of March 2020. On March 10th 2020, the council of ministers in North Cyprus announced a lockdown and listed some restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus; schools and entertainment centres were closed, and children had to spend most of their day at home. This study aims to examine the use of mobile technology before and during the COVID-19 lockdown period by children aged three to six, based on parents' opinions. This is a descriptive study with a sample of 319 parents. Data and demographic information were collected with a questionnaire and analysed with SPSS (24.0). Comparing the duration of mobile technology device usage before the pandemic and during the lockdown period, an increase is evident, as expected. Of note, when compared to the pre-pandemic period, it is found that there is a decrease in the rate of mobile technology device usage for video viewing during the lockdown period. The findings also suggest that children mostly first experienced mobile technology devices in some way before 36 months of age. This study has determined that most children do not have their own mobile technology device.
Media use before, during and after COVID-19 lockdown according to parents in a clinically referred sample in child and adolescent psychiatry: results of an online survey in Switzerland

Anna Maria Werling; Susanne Walitza; Edna Grünblatt (et al.)

Published: July 2021   Journal: Comprehensive Psychiatry

To investigate the consequences of COVID-19 lockdown on screen media use in children and adolescents with mental health problems, an online survey was conducted on leisure media use before, during and after the lockdown of spring 2020. Parents of patients (10-18 yrs) referred to child and adolescent psychiatry participated in an anonymous online survey, approximately six weeks after the first easing of lockdown measures. Parents rated the amount, the content and the psychological impact of their children's media use before, during and after the lockdown.

YouTube's growth in use among children 0–5 during COVID19: the Occidental European case

Raquel Lozano-Blasco; Alberto Quilez-Robres; Diego Delgado-Bujedo (et al.)

Published: July 2021   Journal: Technology in Society
YouTube has become an educational and entertainment tool among Western European families, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study monitored the main channels for children aged 0–5 years by using the social media analysis (SNA) methodology from March 24, 2020 to August 24, 2020. The software used has been FanpageKarma, which allows the collection and interpretation of data. The results indicate not only a growth in the use of such channels during confinement, but also how their expansion is related to the evolution of the COVID-19, reflecting, in turn, the consequences of the government policies adopted. Social distancing generated a greater consumption of recreational content, but not a greater growth in educational content regardless of the country or culture.
Using social media data for assessing children’s exposure to violence during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pouria Babvey; Fernanda Capela; Claudia Cappa (et al.)

Published: June 2021   Journal: Child Abuse & Neglect
There are concerns that the COVID-19 crisis and the measures adopted by countries in response to  the  pandemic may have led  to  an  upsurge in  violence against children. Added stressors placed on caregivers, economic uncertainty, job loss or disruption to livelihoods and social isolation may have led to a rise in children’s experience of violence in the home. Extended online presence by children may have resulted in increased exposure to abusive content and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying involvement, resilient coping, and loneliness of adolescents during Covid-19 in rural China

Ziqiang Han; Ziyi Wang; Yuhuan Li

Published: June 2021   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Cyberbullying involvement can lead to internal health issues, especially mental health problems. Different coping strategies may reduce or enhance the strengths between cyberbullying experience and mental health problems. In this study, we examined the correlations between cyberbullying involvement and loneliness among a group of children and adolescents during the Covid-19 pandemic in China, focusing on investigating the protecting effect of the resilient coping strategy. The results demonstrated that 86.68% of the students were not involved in cyberbullying activities, 8.19% were victims only, 1.89% was perpetrators only, and 3.24% were both victims and perpetrators.
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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.


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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.