Online To Offline: Why It’s A Bumpy Transition For Kids | Noida News


Noida: Outpatient departments of psychiatry units in hospitals have been reporting a sharp increase in visits by children and teenagers coming for counselling in recent weeks as two simultaneous scenarios play out.
One is the combined impact of limited social interactions, a lack of physical activity and playtime with peers because of the pandemic that has led to behavioural changes. The other is anxiety that the return to offline mode has been setting off after two years of virtual classes.
With schools opening their doors, counsellors find themselves talking to many more kids and teenagers than they are used to. The youngsters are perturbed over attending physical classes and the thought of appearing for exams in a classroom under an invigilator’s watch.
Dr Priyanka Srivastava, consultant, department of behavioural sciences at Jaypee Hospital, told TOI, “The last two years have had a direct impact on the mental and physical development of children confined to their homes. The problem has started showing up more these days as the schools are re-opening, and they are now finding the transition difficult.”
The closure of schools, doctors said, has had the most impact on children in the 6-15 age group. “They are less interested in studies and some are scoring lower during IQ assessments than in pre-Covid times. Their ability to concentrate, too, has been affected. It has become poorer. Before the pandemic, parents restricted gadgets, but those became essential for online classes. Now, children spend more time on screens, leading to loneliness and paving the way for other health issues to crop up,” said Dr Srivastava.
Speaking about the increase in the number of children who parents are bringing in for consultations with therapists, Dr Sandeep Govil, senior neuropsychiatrist at Yashoda Hospital in Kaushambi said, “Before Covid, four-five children were visiting with behavioural problems. That number has gone up to 30 to 40 per month. Parents report anger issues and that the kids have become more stubborn and show signs of peer anxiety. The children will take time to acclimatise and learn how to go about offline classes.”
Parents who have noticed behavioural changes in their children they have been trying to engage them in different activities at home. “My six-year-old son now has no routine and wakes up 10 minutes before his online classes are to begin. I made efforts to engage him in small household activities and give him responsibilities, but nothing could substitute the interaction with classmates and teachers. Since April 2020, he has been refusing to visit anyone,” said Ramendra Pillai, a lawyer based in Delhi.
Another parent of a 12-year-old boy said, “For my son, staying at home translated into boredom, excessive use of social media, and playing video games. We took him to a counsellor when he was hesitant to meet friends after the third wave. He also expressed more anger when we tried to control his screen time.”
Chandrakant Lahariya, founder-director, Foundation for People-centric Health Systems, Delhi, said, “There is a need for schools and parents to work together to understand the situation of the children as this transition is difficult at their age. Children moving from nursery to Class 1 do not have any experience of an offline class. They have missed out on peer interaction, which helps them grow, and hence, are now facing behavioural problems.”
The pandemic-induced stay-at-home regime has also sent studying, sleeping and eating schedules haywire. “Routines are important in grooming children and giving them the confidence to have control over their lives,” said Dr Shalini Advani, director, Pathways School, Noida.


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