Camp Australia research shows that children in “lock down” states have experienced most stress

Camp Australia research shows that children in “lock down” states have experienced most stress

by Freya Lucas

March 22, 2022

New research from outside school hours care (OSHC) provider Camp Australia has shown that children in Australia’s most locked down states – ACT, NSW and Victoria – have been most impacted by the pandemic, being disconnected from friends and family due to remote learning and pandemic restrictions and spending more time on screens. 

 

The findings have highlighted the need to support young Australians’ mental wellbeing now to decrease the likelihood of the continued disruption from the pandemic impacting their future, a spokesperson said.

 

In the ACT, 97 per cent of parents experienced a sense of disconnection, a perspective shared by 94 per cent of NSW parents, and 93 per cent of Victorian families. 

 

Parents were concerned about the increase in the amount of time their children spent in front of screens (82 per cent) and the fall in their physical activity (68 per cent). Principals (91 per cent) were mostly concerned about the pandemic increasing children’s social anxiety and emotional instability, with 80 per cent also worried about the impact on children’s learning. 

 

Parents and principals were both concerned about children feeling disconnected from friendship groups, particularly in the states where children spent the most time learning and connecting in virtual classrooms.

 

Camp Australia speculates that continued disruption from the pandemic and the recent flooding events will exacerbate those feelings of disruption and disconnection.

 

More than 3,000 parents and 89 principals from Camp Australia partner schools participated in the December 2021 survey, which clinical psychologist and family therapist, Dr Andrew Fuller said should serve as a warning call to action from parents and schools.

 

“We need to take these impacts like children feeling more disconnected very seriously,” he said, “because one of the patterns of psychological ill health is that when you have a condition, you have an increased likelihood of that condition in the future. In times of dislocation like now, we all need to work harder to recreate a sense of belonging and connection.” 

 

“Getting children involved in activities where they learn and socialise in a less structured environment, outside the classroom is helpful,” Dr Fuller explained.

 

“COVID-19 took fun away so we need to create safe play spaces for children where they can learn, have fun, feel excited about their lives, try different activities and explore the world.”

 

“Knowing the issues children face gives parents and educators a great opportunity to work together to help children settle back into school, redevelop a sense of belonging, rekindle friendships, and reconnect with their learning,” continued Warren Jacobson, CEO for Camp Australia. 

 

“Outside of school we offer a range of activities such as sport, cooking, drama and ‘arts and crafts’ that encourage socialisation, create excitement, and build confidence. Our Big Art Competition that started last week is designed to use art to help children express their emotions. We know children with stronger social and emotional skills often progress more rapidly with their academic skills. Now more than ever OSHC is playing a critical role in the transition out of the pandemic and providing a sense of normalcy as much as possible.”

 

The Big Art Competition runs from 7–27 March and is open to all primary school aged children across Australia who are registered with Camp Australia. The theme for this year is ‘what does belonging mean to me?’ focusing on inclusivity, self-confidence, friendship and happiness. 

 

For more information please see here

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