With pupils across the UK in various stages of returning to the classroom, a newly published survey details how their lives have been impacted by home schooling.
The survey, conducted by online safety not-for-profit Internet Matters, found that more than half of parents (52%) were worried about the long-term effect online learning could have on their children’s confidence and self-esteem.
Breaking down their concerns, 41% said their children had become more self-conscious about their identity and how they appeared on camera; 43% said their child found it hard to speak up during live lessons; and 37% said they were unusually anxious when asked to attend lessons with their camera on.
More positively, 46% of the 497 parents taking part in the survey said that ‘live’ lessons gave their children an opportunity to remain ‘visibly connected’.
Over half (52%) said they were concerned about the amount of time lockdown was forcing their child to spend on digital devices.
“It’s understandable that parents will be worried about the impact of remote learning on their kids, but there are many positive steps they can take to help,” said psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos, an Internet Matters ambassador who has recorded a series of videos designed to support children’s wellbeing during lockdown.
“For younger children, it’s about managing the basics, ensuring they can see and hear well and keeping them engaged with support from the school.
“When it comes to older children, they are much more socially aware, so it’s important to help them manage any anxieties and individual issues they have, not letting them feel like they are more exposed during online lessons than they usually are.
“It’s also about reinforcing the idea that this is a moment in time that’s affected us all, but it doesn’t have to be something that affects who we are – it’s temporary.”
That last point is echoed by another safety-in-technology organisation, South West Grid for Learning (SWGfL), which is teaming with Internet Matters to run an Instagram campaign to reassure 13-18-year-olds that they are not alone in the issues they have faced during lockdown and remote learning.
A series of short videos feature young people talking about how they cope with the everyday stresses of lockdown learning, and point out what young people can do to support their mental health.
The majority agreed that, whilst it’s been a positive in enabling them to stay connected and keep up with school work, they have become so reliant on tech that they can sometimes feel tied down to it.
“Many children are facing the same struggles, whether that’s issues with having their camera on during live remote lessons or concerns over being too reliant on tech,” said David Wright, director of UK Safer Internet Centre.
“What’s important is that children know they are not alone in the issues they have faced, and can feel a sense of achievement as they look to head back to the classroom for the first time this year.”