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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 77-81

Psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in school-aged children and adolescents in Karaikal – A longitudinal study

Department of Pediatrics, Vinayaka Missions Medical College and Hospital, Karaikal, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sree Latha B Venkat
No. 36, Second Cross, Nehru Nagar, Karaikal - 609 605, Puducherry
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_153_20

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Background: The pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has forced many nations to complete lockdown. Fear of the infection, financial loss, and insecurity of future, affect human psychology. Children and adolescents are also at risk of psychological disturbances causing behavioral problems. Increasing screen time and parental stresses add to the mental trauma. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to assess the prevalence of behavioral abnormalities in school-aged children and adolescents and the influence of lockdown on their behavior. Materials and Methods: A prospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted in the community setting of homes of healthy children aged 6–12 years (n = 123) and adolescents aged 13–18 years (n = 115) living with parents under the lockdown during March–April 2020 in the low coronavirus disease 2019 transmission district of Karaikal. Change of behavior from the 1st day of lockdown over a month was assessed using parent-completed Strength and Difficulty Questionnaire (SDQ). The total scores of initial assessments and follow-up were calculated. Results: At initial assessment, 4% (n = 3) of the children and 6% (n = 7) of the adolescents had high scores in four-band categorization of the parent-completed SDQ. One month in lockdown, it increased to 17.8% (n = 22) in children and 26.9% (n = 31)) in adolescents. Very high scores were recorded in 1.7% (n = 2) of children and 7.8% (n = 9) of adolescents. Emotional and hyperactivity scores were high in children (P < 0.001), while peer and conduct problems were higher in adolescents (P < 0.001). Longer screen time (P < 0.001), parental conflicts (P < 0.001), and lower socioeconomic state (P < 0.05) correlated with high scores. Conclusion: The psychological impact of lockdown on children and adolescents is high. Longer screen time has a serious impact on the behavior of children as well as adolescents. Parental conflicts correlated positively with adverse behavior in adolescents than children.

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