Nowadays, most of the parents whose children are attending online classes are worried about their children’s physical and psychological health. Due to closure of schools, most of the children are actively engaged to attend online classes to continue their education. They also want to keep in touch with their friends, and this has increased their use of social media (whatsapp, youtube and snapchatetc), which could distract them when they are meant to be completing school assignments. Children could also be exposed to inappropriate materials and cyber bullying on social media. According to a study before the pandemic, social media exposes children to a greater risk of cyber bullying and that can lead to stress, anxiety, low self‐esteem and even suicide attempts. The dangers of being online can also include inappropriate content and conversations, including sexual images and pornography. Social media could be a major source of getting addicted to various harmful substances for the children.
One of the major consequences of lockdowns and school closures is that most of the children are not able to engage in outdoor physical activities, especially when they do not have access to outside space, which has increased weight problems and the disorders that are associated with them. Children are meant to spend on average 6 to 8 hours on a daily basis to attend their online classes and to complete their school work. They don’t have time to get sunlight exposure during week days that could lead to a deficiency of Vitamin D which is essential for bones and teeth. Epidemiological studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an increased risk of respiratory tract infections. Given the disease course of COVID‐19, which is primarily a respiratory disease, we believe that Vitamin D deficiency could make children more vulnerable. Doing regular physical sports activities and routinely exercising in a safe home environment is very important for healthy living during this COVID‐19 pandemic. Good nutrition also plays a critical role in children’s cognitive development and academic performance, and this is a concern during the pandemic.
School closures also mean that children are sitting continuously for longer periods of time, for example, at computers, and this could lead to issues like back pain, eye strain and disturbed sleep.
What should Parents do to improve their children’s physical and mental health?
In order to improve the children’s physical and mental health during this covid19 period, following are some simple suggestions:
· Parents must engage with their children in indoor and outdoor physical activities.
· Create a sporting environment in their home.
· Provide them as much as possible indoor and outdoor sporting equipment such as Boxing Punching Bag, Badminton Rackets, Table Tennis, Cricket, Football, Basketball, Rugby, throw ball, handball and Flying Disc etc.
· Cycling is a very good exercise to improve immunity. All parents must provide a good bicycle to their children and encourage them to do cycling every day at least 2 hours morning and evening time.
· We must also provide them simple fitness accessories such as skipping rope, 1 kg or 2 kg dumbbells, push up bar, door bar, hula hoop, agility ladder, jumping rings and tug of war rope etc
I believe that above simple suggestions would help children to improve their physical and psychological health system and to improve their self-confidence so that they can always be prepared to overcome any challenges during life.