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      Czech adolescents’ remote school and health experiences during the spring 2020 COVID-19 lockdown

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          Highlights

          • One in five adolescents reported economic disruptions during spring 2020 lockdown.

          • Girls and older adolescents reported the worst social and mental well-being.

          • Perceived change in sleep and physical activity varied by gender and behavior.

          • Adolescents reported consuming more fruits and vegetables and less energy drinks.

          • Findings can be used for time trends that include the lockdown period.

          Abstract

          Schools around the world were closed during the spring 2020 lockdown to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As such, these rapid changes to adolescent daily routines may have had immediate as well as long-term effects on their physical, social, and mental health. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the experiences, health behaviors and perceived change in health behaviors among adolescents in Czechia during the spring 2020 lockdown. Adolescents (n = 3,440, 54% girls; M age = 13.5 years, SD = 1.6) from all regions of Czechia were recruited to complete a self-report survey based on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study, with additional items on household disruptions and socialization during lockdown, as well as items on perceived changes in health behaviors during lockdown. First, we described the self-reported impacts of the spring lockdown by gender and grade. Second, log-linear analyses were used to examine the perceived behavioral changes based on standardized cut-off values reporting for health behaviors and gender. Less than a third, 19% and 32% of the respondents reported economic and psychosocial disruptions to their family life, 79% indicated they had positive opportunities for family interactions or learning new things. Girls and older adolescents reported the worst levels of social and mental well-being. Changes in respondents’ perceived health behaviors varied by reported behavior frequencies and gender. These results may be useful to compare with future secular trends, and may serve as input in developing strategies to counter the impact of the spring 2020 or future similar lockdowns on the adolescents' well-being..

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          Most cited references42

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          A Short Scale for Measuring Loneliness in Large Surveys: Results From Two Population-Based Studies.

          Most studies of social relationships in later life focus on the amount of social contact, not on individuals' perceptions of social isolation. However, loneliness is likely to be an important aspect of aging. A major limiting factor in studying loneliness has been the lack of a measure suitable for large-scale social surveys. This article describes a short loneliness scale developed specifically for use on a telephone survey. The scale has three items and a simplified set of response categories but appears to measure overall loneliness quite well. The authors also document the relationship between loneliness and several commonly used measures of objective social isolation. As expected, they find that objective and subjective isolation are related. However, the relationship is relatively modest, indicating that the quantitative and qualitative aspects of social relationships are distinct. This result suggests the importance of studying both dimensions of social relationships in the aging process.
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            Mitigate the effects of home confinement on children during the COVID-19 outbreak

            In response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, the Chinese Government has ordered a nationwide school closure as an emergency measure to prevent spreading of the infection. Public activities are discouraged. The Ministry of Education estimates that more than 220 million children and adolescents are confined to their homes; this includes 180 million primary and secondary students and 47 million preschool children). 1 Thanks to the strong administrative system in China, the emergency home schooling plan has been rigorously implemented. 2 Massive efforts are being made by schools and teachers at all levels to create online courses and deliver them through TV broadcasts and the internet in record time. The new virtual semester has just started in many parts of the country, and various courses are offered online in a well organised manner. These actions are helping to alleviate many parents' concerns about their children's educational attainment by ensuring that school learning is largely undisrupted. Although these measures and efforts are highly commendable and necessary, there are reasons to be concerned because prolonged school closure and home confinement during a disease outbreak might have negative effects on children's physical and mental health.3, 4 Evidence suggests that when children are out of school (eg, weekends and summer holidays), they are physically less active, have much longer screen time, irregular sleep patterns, and less favourable diets, resulting in weight gain and a loss of cardiorespiratory fitness.3, 5 Such negative effects on health are likely to be much worse when children are confined to their homes without outdoor activities and interaction with same aged friends during the outbreak. Perhaps a more important but easily neglected issue is the psychological impact on children and adolescents. Stressors such as prolonged duration, fears of infection, frustration and boredom, inadequate information, lack of in-person contact with classmates, friends, and teachers, lack of personal space at home, and family financial loss can have even more problematic and enduring effects on children and adolescents. 4 For example, Sprang and Silman 6 showed that the mean posttraumatic stress scores were four times higher in children who had been quarantined than in those who were not quarantined. Furthermore, the interaction between lifestyle changes and psychosocial stress caused by home confinement could further aggravate the detrimental effects on child physical and mental health, which could cause a vicious circle. To mitigate the consequences of home confinement, the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the community, school, and parents need to be aware of the downside of the situation and do more to effectively address these issues immediately. Experiences learned from previous outbreaks can be valuable for designing a new programme to tackle these issues in China. 7 The Chinese Government needs to raise the awareness of potential physical and mental health impacts of home confinement during this unusual period. The government should also provide guidelines and principles in effective online learning and ensure that the contents of the courses meet the educational requirements. Yet it is also important not to overburden the students. The government might mobilise existing resources, perhaps involving NGOs, and create a platform for gathering the best online education courses about healthy lifestyle and psychosocial support programmes available for schools to choose from. For example, in addition to innovative courses for a better learning experience, promotional videos can be useful to motivate children to have a healthy lifestyle at home by increasing physical activities, having a balanced diet, regular sleep pattern, and good personal hygiene. 8 To make these educational materials truly effective, they must be age-appropriate and attractive. They require professional expertise and real resources to create. Communities can serve as valuable resources in managing difficulties of family matters. For instance, parents' committees can work together to bridge the needs of students with school requirements and to advocate for children's rights to a healthy lifestyle. Psychologists can provide online services to cope with mental health issues caused by domestic conflicts, tension with parents, and anxiety from becoming infected. 7 Social workers can play an active role in helping parents cope with family issues arising from the situation, when needed. Such a social safety net could be particularly useful for disadvantaged or single-parent families, 9 but action is needed to make it accessible to them. Schools have a critical role, not only in delivering educational materials to children, but in offering an opportunity for students to interact with teachers and obtain psychological counselling. Schools can actively promote a health-conscious schedule, good personal hygiene, encourage physical activities, appropriate diet, and good sleep habits, and integrate such health promotion materials into the school curriculum. 3 A Chinese child studies from home during the COVID-19 outbreak © 2020 Fan Jiang 2020 Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active. In the event of home confinement, parents are often the closest and best resource for children to seek help from. Close and open communication with children is the key to identifying any physical and psychological issues and to comforting children in prolonged isolation.10, 11 Parents are often important role models in healthy behaviour for children. Good parenting skills become particularly crucial when children are confined at home. Besides monitoring child performance and behaviour, parents also need to respect their identity and needs, and they need to help children develop self-discipline skills. Children are constantly exposed to epidemic-related news, so having direct conversations with children about these issues could alleviate their anxiety and avoid panic.10, 11 Home confinement could offer a good opportunity to enhance the interaction between parents and children, involve children in family activities, and improve their self-sufficiency skills. With the right parenting approaches, family bonds can be strengthened, and child psychological needs met. 12 Since the COVID-19 epidemic is no longer confined to China, 13 school closure and home confinement-related issues also become relevant in other affected countries. As children are vulnerable to environmental risks and their physical health, mental health, and productivity in adult life is deeply rooted in early years, 14 close attention and great efforts are required to address these emergency issues effectively and avoid any long-term consequences in children. Any sustainable programme must involve local professionals to culturally adapt the interventions to the administrative system and to the regional and community environment, and it must develop contextually relevant material for children and adolescents. 7 Finally, children have little voices to advocate for their needs. The latest Commission 14 on the future of the world's children urges a holistic strategy in preparing for the uncertainty that all children are facing. It is the responsibility and keen interests of all stakeholders, from governments to parents, to ensure that the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on children and adolescents are kept minimal. Immediate actions are warranted.
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              Our future: a Lancet commission on adolescent health and wellbeing

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Prev Med Rep
                Preventive Medicine Reports
                2211-3355
                01 May 2021
                June 2021
                01 May 2021
                : 22
                : 101386
                Affiliations
                [a ]School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
                [b ]Physical Activity for Health Research Cluster, Health Research Institute, Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, University of Limerick, Ireland
                [c ]Sts Cyril and Methodius Faculty of Theology, Olomouc University Social Health Institute, Palacky, University in Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
                [d ]Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, VSB – Technical University of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic
                [e ]Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic
                [f ]Department of Behavioural Sciences, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author at: School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland, Finland. kwok.ng@ 123456hbsc.org
                Article
                S2211-3355(21)00076-0 101386
                10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101386
                8113712
                34012765
                13655cb6-4b76-4faf-a0aa-cc108386c323
                © 2021 The Author(s)

                This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

                History
                : 10 December 2020
                : 14 April 2021
                : 20 April 2021
                Categories
                Regular Article

                coronavirus,sars-cov-2,school closure,health behaviors,well-being,physical activity,screentime,food,sleep

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