Kids can get lonely. Here’s why that’s more concerning during the pandemic.

Plus, tools to help children feel less isolated as quarantine protocols continue

Sze Quak awoke one morning to hear her seven-year-old daughter, Alice, singing alone in her bedroom. “She made up a song about wanting the coronavirus to be gone soon and wanting to go back to school,” Quak says. An only child, Alice has been confined in their Fullerton, California, home attending virtual classes since March. “Before COVID-19, she didn’t really want to go to school. Now, she’s begging to go back.”

Quak keeps Alice occupied with activities such as drawing, crafting, and biking, and also organized weekly Zoom meetups so her daughter can catch up with her friends. “When the loneliness got unbearable, we met up with a friend of hers at a park,” she says. “We keep safe by keeping our masks on.”

While quarantines are necessary to prevent a deadly pandemic from spreading, forced isolation might have a negative impact on some children’s mental health. In a June 2020 study published in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researchers found that children and adolescents are more likely to experience high rates of depression and anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends.

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