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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 550
Mental health impact of COVID-19 among children and college students: a systematic review

Jad A. Elharake; Faris Akbar; Amyn A. Malik (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Child Psychiatry & Human Development
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a worldwide lockdown and school closures, which have placed a substantial mental health burden on children and college students. Through a systematic search of the literature on PubMed and Collabovid of studies published January 2020–July 2021, our findings of five studies on children and 16 studies on college students found that both groups reported feeling more anxious, depressed, fatigued, and distressed than prior to the pandemic. Several risk factors such as living in rural areas, low family socioeconomic status, and being a family member or friend to a healthcare worker were strongly associated with worse mental health outcomes. As schools and researchers discuss future strategies on how to combine on-site teaching with online courses, our results indicate the importance of considering social contacts in students’ mental health to support students at higher risk of social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parental support for young learners’ online learning of English in a Chinese primary school

Jian Tao; Yueting Xu

Published: January 2022   Journal: System
Online language learning is challenging to young learners who often need high levels of support from teachers and parents due to their limited skills in self-regulated learning. While technology integration in education is on the rise, there continues to be a lack of research into how young learners can be better supported in online language learning. This qualitative study examines how parents support young learners' online learning of English during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on interviews with 30 parents of students in Grades 1–5 at a Chinese primary school. The study reveals a range of supportive practices: monitoring of learning emerged as the top priority for parents, followed by affective, academic and technology support. Most of these parental support strategies were mediated primarily by the children's grade level and/or parents' socioeconomic background. Parents also sought teachers' help and played bridging roles to enable teacher-student interaction, particularly when they were unable to provide direct help themselves.
Children and adolescents’ sleep patterns and their associations with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Shanghai, China

Jian Zhao; Jiawei Xu; Yaping He (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

School closures and home confinement due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Consequently, it could increase the risk of children and adolescents’ mental health disorders. In this prospective study, we randomly selected ten schools in Shanghai and conducted cluster sampling of students from each school. The first wave of the survey was conducted between January 3 and 21, 2020. Approximately two months after the COVID-19 outbreak declared, a second wave of the survey was conducted. In total, 2427 individuals were surveyed in both waves using the same sampling method. Participants’ mental health status (depression, anxiety and stress), sleep patterns and other demographic information were measured in both waves. Multivariate regression analysis was used to examine the associations between sleep patterns and mental health status.

Brief, parent-led, transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral teletherapy for youth with emotional problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Andrew G. Guzick; Alicia W. Leong; Emily M. Dickinson (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of Affective Disorders

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression in children. A six-session, parent-led, transdiagnostic, cognitive-behavioral teletherapy program was adapted from an established protocol to help youth aged between 5 and 13 years manage emotional problems during the pandemic. One-hundred twenty-nine parents of youth struggling with emotional problems during the COVID-19 pandemic participated in the program. Parents reported on their children's psychosocial functioning before and after treatment using validated assessments. They also reported on treatment satisfaction. Clinician-rated global improvement was assessed at each session to determine clinically significant treatment response.

Parent reports of children’s fright reactions to news of the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a national U.S. sample

Joanne Cantor; Kristen Harrison

Published: January 2022   Journal: Media Psychology
Between April 17 and 29, 2020, a nationwide online survey of parents of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years (N = 1560) was conducted. A majority of children were reported to be negatively emotionally affected (frightened, disturbed, or upset) by news coverage of COVID-19. Every stress symptom asked about (including nervousness, crying, and sleep problems) was dramatically more prevalent among children frightened than not frightened by the coverage. Open-ended questions illustrated the emotional depths of some responses. Developmental differences occurred in elements of coverage seen to influence fright. Most parents of frightened children tried to help their child cope, but their choices of strategies were only partially consistent with developmental expectations. Children with digital devices in their bedroom showed greater fear; more hours of COVID news were transmitted in homes with frightened than unfrightened children; and the relationship between media access and children’s fear intensity and stress symptoms remained after controlling for parents’ own fear and parents’ closeness with people diagnosed with COVID. Parents are encouraged to monitor children’s exposure to media-conveyed catastrophes, to be mindful of potential age differences in child responses, and to be available to help children cope.
Masking for school-age children with epilepsy: we do have consensus!: masking for children with epilepsy

Anthony I. Fine; Lily C. Wong-Kisiel; Katherine C. Nickels (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Journal of child neurology

This study was designed to assess current recommendations from child neurologists and epileptologists on masking for school-age children with epilepsy. A 7-item survey was created and sent out to members of the Child Neurology Society and Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium in August of 2021 to assess current practice and provider recommendations on masking.

Residential green space is associated with a buffering effect on stress responses during the COVID-19 pandemic in mothers of young children, a prospective study

Stijn Vos; Esmée M. Bijnens; Eleni Renaers (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Environmental research
Green spaces are associated with increased well-being and reduced risk of developing psychiatric disorders. This study aimed to investigate how residential proximity to green spaces was associated with stress response buffering during the COVID-19 pandemic in a prospective cohort of young mothers. It collected information on stress in 766 mothers (mean age: 36.6 years) from the ENVIRONAGE birth cohort at baseline of the study (from 2010 onwards), and during the COVID-19 pandemic (from December 2020 until May 2021). Self-reported stress responses due to the COVID-19 pandemic were the outcome measure. Green space was quantified in several radiuses around the residence based on high-resolution (1 m2) data. Using ordinal logistic regression, the odds of better resistance to reported stress was estimated, while controlling for age, socio-economic status, stress related to care for children, urbanicity, and household change in income during the pandemic.
An explainable machine learning approach for COVID-19’s impact on mood states of children and adolescents during the first lockdown in Greece

Charis Ntakolia; Dimitrios Priftis; Mariana Charakopoulou-Travlou (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Healthcare
The global spread of COVID-19 led the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic on 11 March 2020. To decelerate this spread, countries have taken strict measures that have affected the lifestyles and economies. Various studies have focused on the identification of COVID-19’s impact on the mental health of children and adolescents via traditional statistical approaches. However, a machine learning methodology must be developed to explain the main factors that contribute to the changes in the mood state of children and adolescents during the first lockdown. Therefore, in this study an explainable machine learning pipeline is presented focusing on children and adolescents in Greece, where a strict lockdown was imposed. The target group consists of children and adolescents, recruited from children and adolescent mental health services, who present mental health problems diagnosed before the pandemic. The proposed methodology imposes: (i) data collection via questionnaires; (ii) a clustering process to identify the groups of subjects with amelioration, deterioration and stability to their mood state; (iii) a feature selection process to identify the most informative features that contribute to mood state prediction; (iv) a decision-making process based on an experimental evaluation among classifiers; (v) calibration of the best-performing model; and (vi) a post hoc interpretation of the features’ impact on the best-performing model.
Increased behavioral health needs and continued psychosocial stress among children with medical complexity and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonna von Schulz; Verena Serrano; Melissa Buchholz (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Infant Mental Health Journal

Children with medical complexity (CMC) and their caregivers are at increased risk for multiple psychosocial stressors that can impact child and family well-being and health outcomes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to supports diminished, psychosocial screening and integrated behavioral health (IBH) services in the primary care setting were crucial in identifying and addressing the unique needs of this population. Universal screening to identify psychosocial needs was implemented in a primary care clinic for CMC that includes IBH services. Data on the prevalence of psychosocial screening and IBH services for young children and their caregivers before and during the COVID-19 pandemic were evaluated.

Psychosocial impact of 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine on Italian parents and their children

Bassem J. Khoory; Maya W. Keuning; Anne C. Fledderus (et al.)

Published: January 2022   Journal: Maternal and Child Health Journal

Italy was affected greatly by Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), emerging mainly in the Italian province of Lombardy. This outbreak led to profound governmental interventions along with a strict quarantine. This quarantine may have psychosocial impact on children and parents in particular. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine on psychosocial functioning of Italian parents and their children. In this cross-sectional survey, we included parents and children resided in Italy during the 8 weeks COVID-19 quarantine. We evaluated social and emotional functioning, clinical symptoms possibly related to emotional distress, and change in perspectives using a questionnaire.

Children during coronavirus: Israeli preschool children’ s perspectives

Or Perah Midbar Alter

Published: January 2022   Journal: Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology
The corona pandemic has changed the lives of human beings in almost every corner of the globe. This study sought to explore how Israeli children aged 3-6 experienced the corona period, through semi-structured interviews conducted with a playing cards method. The study is based on the context-informed perspective theory (Nadan and Roer-Strier, 2020) which examines the different contexts in the lives of children growing up in different families, while striving to make children's voices heard as agents/experts of their lives (Corsaro, 1997Mayall, 2002). The interviews with the children revealed that the Corona period was indeed a challenging and complex period for them. At the same time, following the intensive stay at home, these children showed mental resilience and took responsibility in three main areas: (1) sibling relationships (2) supporting their parents (3) staying alone. Through taking responsibility for these roles, the children have become partners in coping with the challenges that the Corona and the frequent lockdowns have brought to their family’ s lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted both school bullying and cyberbullying

Andrew Bacher-Hicks; Joshua Goodman; Jennifer G. Green (et al.)

Institution: National Bureau of Economic Research
Published: December 2021   Journal: NBER Working Paper Series

One-fifth of U.S. high school students report being bullied each year. This study uses internet search data for real-time tracking of bullying patterns as COVID-19 disrupted in-person schooling. It first shows that, prepandemic, internet searches contain useful information about actual bullying behavior. It then shows that searches for school bullying and cyberbullying dropped 30-35 percent as schools shifted to remote learning in spring 2020. The gradual return to in-person instruction starting in fall 2020 partially returns bullying searches to pre-pandemic levels. This rare positive effect may partly explain recent mixed evidence on the pandemic’s impact on students’ mental health and well-being.

The impact of extended e-learning on emotional well-being of students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia

Sehar-un-Nisa Hassan; Fahad D. Algahtani; Mohammad Raafat Atteya (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: Children
Educational institutions in Saudi Arabia extended e-learning until the third semester of the academic calendar to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection and to achieve 70% inoculation for the Saudi population. This study assesses the impact of extended e-learning and other associated stressors on the emotional health of university students in Saudi Arabia. An online cross-sectional survey collected data between the months of January–March 2021. The emotional signs of stress were measured by using a subset of items from the COVID-19 Adolescent Symptom and Psychological Experience Questionnaire (CASPE). Data about demographic variables, educational characteristics and academic performance were also collected. A regression analysis was performed to determine predictors of emotional health. A total of 434 university students including females (63%) and males (37%) provided responses.
Screen use and mental health symptoms in Canadian children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic

Xuedi Li; Leigh M. Vanderloo; Charles D. G. Keown-Stoneman (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: JAMA Network Open

Longitudinal research on specific forms of electronic screen use and mental health symptoms in children and youth during COVID-19 is minimal. Understanding the association may help develop policies and interventions targeting specific screen activities to promote healthful screen use and mental health in children and youth. This study aims to determine whether specific forms of screen use (television [TV] or digital media, video games, electronic learning, and video-chatting time) were associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety, conduct problems, irritability, hyperactivity, and inattention in children and youth during COVID-19.

Children’s indoor and outdoor play as potential correlates of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran: a brief report on national survey

Mohse Rajabi; G. Ali Afrooz; Gulfisha Qureshi (et al.)

Published: December 2021   Journal: International Journal of Play
Over the past 16 months, Iranian children have had their schools closed. Prolonged COVID-19-related restrictions and limited play activities can have significant mental health consequences in children. Using a cross-sectional design, a sample of Iranian parents (n = 1182) of children aged between 5 and 11 years completed an online survey including: Children's Play Scale (CPS), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule Short Form (I-PANAS-SF), and the Strength and Difficulties Questionaries (SDQ). Parents reported that their child spent significantly longer time playing outside at home and inside at home than anywhere else. Children were also reported to spend the minimum number of hours at indoor play centres, near water, green spaces, and playgrounds. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 context, significant declines in outdoor play activities during the pandemic were reported for 83% of children.
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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.