New study shows remote learning caused academic, social and sleep issues
TAMPA, Fla. — At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows about 55 million children in the United States were affected by school format changes. Many of these children have had to turn to virtual home learning.
“Parents were trying to do their best, educators were trying to do their best. Everyone was really trying to make the best and most important decisions for their kids,” said Dr. Kimberley Levitt, clinical assistant professor for the University of Michigan’s Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and Michigan Medical Researcher. .
A recent post study from the University of Michigan collected data from 300 parents with children ages 5 to 10, ranging in kindergarten through fifth grade in Michigan during last year’s pandemic to see how learning at distance had an impact on the students.
“What are these children going through?” Levitt asked.
Researchers looked at how virtual learning affected children beyond academics and tried to understand how it affected them emotionally and socially as well.
“What our study found was that children who received distance education compared to in-person education had greater behavioral problems, problems related to learning,” Levitt said.
The report showed that children who were in remote classes for a while were less motivated to learn, showed more signs of hyperactivity and peer problems as they had to adapt to interactions with their classmates and their teachers via screens.
Overall, school has been a more challenging experience for students who have gone through remote learning.
“Kids are so resilient and they’re doing wonderfully well, but kids have had to deal with a lot sometimes in very short lifespans so far,” Levitt said.
The study also looked at how the students’ sleep was affected.
“Having impacts on sleep doesn’t just affect the child, we know that changes in sleep and poor sleep quality can affect academics. It can affect mood. It can affect behavior,” said said Levitt.
The results show that children fall asleep later and are more likely to sleep with their parents. Some families also reported that their children had more nightmares.
Researchers believe some students are still experiencing some of these challenges, even now that most schools are back to in-person classes.
“Some kids have bounced back and they’re doing great, but some kids may have residual difficulties, so how can we support them?” Levitt asked.
The task now is to examine some of these negative consequences caused by remote learning and to make decisions that will help these students meet these challenges.
“We all want to move on and that’s so important, but how do we do that in a thoughtful way about some of the things that these kids have been through and what are the right supports for them,” Levitt said.