Parents concerned about children’s social lives, survey says

Parents concerned about children’s social lives, survey says

Parents concerned about children’s social lives, survey says

A crowdsourced survey of Canadian parents suggests that nearly three-quarters of participants are concerned about their children’s social lives during the pandemic.

An expert says the Statistics Canada report published Thursday offers a glimpse into the challenges children and parents are facing because of COVID-19, and those pressures will only intensify as the start of the school year nears.

More than 32,000 Canadians with kidsup to age 14 voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire about parenting during the pandemic between June 9 and June 22, according to Statistics Canada.

Unlike most of the agency’s studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled, so it reflects the views of the respondents but isn’t statistically representative of Canada’s population.

The results suggest that 71 per cent of participants are very or extremely concerned about their children’s opportunities to socialize with friends, and more than half are really worried about their kids being lonely or socially isolated.

Balancing the demands of childcare, schooling and work was a chief concern for the parents surveyed, with three in four participants saying the issue weighs heavily on their minds.

Nearly two-thirds of parents said they are very or extremely concerned about managing their children’s behaviours, emotions and anxiety.

Some parents also seem to be struggling to keep their own emotions in check. More than half of respondents reported concerns about losing their patience, raising their voice and scolding or yelling at their children.

The report suggests many caregivers are turning to technology to help fill the hours, given that there are so few options to keep kids occupied, particularly for parents who need time to work.

Almost two-thirds of parents reported being very concerned about the amount of time their children are spending in front of screens. Nine in ten respondents said their kids use digital devices daily or almost daily, according to the survey.

Approximately 60 per cent of parents said they’re rounding out their kids’ schedules with physical activity or reading almost every day.

The responses indicate that some parents are also having a hard time looking after themselves. Forty-three per cent of participants said they’re very worried about staying connected with family and friends, while 37 per cent are concerned about getting along and supporting each other.

Toula Kourgiantakis, a family therapist and associate professor at University of Toronto’s school of social work, said the survey captures only a sliver of the pandemic’s far-reaching effects on Canadian families.

“I worry about not just what we’re seeing right at this moment, but the effects that we’re going to see in six months, one year,” said Kourgiantakis.

“It’s affecting (parents) on so many levels. And there are some families that are feeling it more than other families.”

Statistics Canada says a large proportion of the survey’s participants were women who were born in Canada and had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Consequently, Kourgiantakis said these crowdsourced responses likely don’t account for the full spectrum of struggles parents are facing.

On top of juggling professional, educational and caregiving duties, many families are dealing with the added stress of financial losses, health issues and learning or behavioural challenges, said Kourgiantakis.

Essential workers face the additional hurdle of finding childcare when they’re on the job, while single parents have to shoulder all of these burdens by themselves, she said.

“It just is not sustainable for families to continue like this,” she said.

“We don’t know what is going to happen in September and how families are going to navigate that if kids are not in school full-time.”

As many school boards drag their heels on back-to-school plans, more parents are confronting the possibility that they’ll be called back to the office before classrooms fully reopen, Kourgiantakis said.

She said government officials need to provide a comprehensive framework to support parents in such scenarios or risk setting back the next generation of children.

“There needs to be a very clear plan … so that it isn’t expected that families are going to be trying to do their jobs while also having kids in the background,” said Kourgiantakis.

“I’m hoping that plan is not going to come on Labour Day weekend.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2020.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

City of Red Deer has nearly doubled its active COVID-19 case count since Feb. 10 and has 75.6 per cent of the Central zone’s active cases. (File photo)
Another new high: Red Deer hits 574 active COVID-19 cases

Province reports 13 new COVID-19 deaths, 430 new cases

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 11 additional deaths over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Red Deer active COVID-19 cases drop slightly

Province reports 267 additional COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths

RCMP photo
Lacombe man caught stealing scrap metal in Bonnyville

A male from Edmonton was also arrested

A past production by Cow Patty Theatre. (File Photo)
Lacombe dinner theatre company looking to future with new shows

Cow Patty Theatre is planning its 2021-22 season to being in November

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Minister Rick Wilson poses with Katie at the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin, both wearing her Pink Shirt Day design. Facebook/ Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin Boys and Girls club Pink Shirt day design focuses on kindness

Katie with the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin created this year’s Pink Shirt Day design.

Black Press File Photo
Valentine’s Day shooting in Maskwacis leaves one male in hospital, one male in custody

19-year-old Francis Edward Nepoose from Maskwacis has been charged with attempted murder.

Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Anne Kirker is expected to sentence Satnam Singh Sandhu on Friday. Red Deer Advocate file photo
Updated: Sylvan Lake man pleads guilty to manslaughter for strangling wife in 2019

Kulvinder Sandhu was strangled and died in hospital several days later

Sentencing delayed in the stabbing death of Samantha Sharpe, of Sunchild First Nation. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Central Alberta man not criminally responsible for killing his father in 2020: judge

Psychiatrist testified Nicholas Johnson was psychotic when he killed his father

The cover of “Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care.” (Submitted)
Ponoka-born author writes history of old mental hospital

“Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care” covers 1911 to 1971

Most Read