Play: A Tool to Fight Pandemic Isolation & Loneliness
The long-lasting effects of the pandemic are yet to be determined. In the meantime, all this extended time at home is an excellent opportunity for families to connect and play, keeping both kids and adults social and active.
- Using action figures and toys, try role-play games that encourage interaction and communication skills that kids may not have practiced for awhile.
- Classic board games with questions and answers – like Guess Who? – can also help kids build and retain their social skills.
- An arts and crafts session presents an opportunity to connect with friends and family who your child may be missing. Break out the paper, stickers, markers, and safety scissors to create cards to send to loved ones.
Are you concerned the pandemic will have a lasting impact on your child’s social and emotional health? According to a new research, commissioned by The Genius of Play and conducted by OnePoll, seven in 10 parents surveyed believe spending a year in quarantine will have long-term effects on their child’s growth and development. An overwhelming majority (70%) also feared their children under age 7 will not even remember a time before the pandemic. Read on for more details, along with play ideas to help counteract these negative effects:
With the pandemic continuing to disrupt daily routines and keep us socially distant, parents with children ages 2-18 who were surveyed expressed concerns for their children’s ability to develop the critical social skills necessary to form relationships. The survey also found:
- 68% of parents believe that their child's social skills were stunted as a result of spending so much time in isolation.
- 52% of parents worried their child will have trouble connecting with people in-person in the future.
- 44% of parents worried their child would have more difficulty playing with their peers.
- 44% of parents worried their child would have more difficulty making friends in the future.
Play Idea: Play games together that incorporates questions and answers to help kids build and retain their social skills, such as Table Talk.
Managing Mental Health
Just as The Genius of Play’s earlier research during the pandemic had indicated, children’s mental health continues to remain a central concern for parents. In this latest survey, four in 10 parents expressed these anxieties.
- 72% of parents said they believe during 2020 their child was lonelier than ever before, a feeling that carried over into their own lives; 58 percent said they, too, felt lonelier than ever during the pandemic.
- 48% of parents said they set up virtual playdates for their kids with friends to combat loneliness.
- 50% of parents said they make sure kids spend time virtually with other family members.
Play Idea: Play a game of Emoji Bingo. Using the emoji game pieces will also offer the whole family a way to talk through their feelings. With printouts, this is also a game that can be played virtually with other friends and family.
While it may often seem difficult to find the silver lining to 2020, parents did report some positive outcomes of the pandemic. And at the top of that list was spending more time playing with their child (46%). Here are some other positive outcomes parents reported:
- 74% of parents said they have encouraged their child to play more to balance out their feelings of loneliness.
- 76% of parents said playing with their child has been a positive escape from the reality of the pandemic.
- 49% of parents reported spending more time outside.
If you are still looking for ideas to occupy your time with more play, be sure to check out The Genius of Play’s “Play & Learn” resource page and our always popular “Coloring & Activity Sheets.”