Some teenagers are less anxious in distance education

A new study of more than 1,000 students found that due to the pandemic, many teenagers feel less anxiety in distance learning, not more.
The study found that before the pandemic, 54% of 13 to 14-year-old girls were at risk for anxiety, but this number dropped by 10% during confinement.
The number of boys of the same age also dropped from 26% to 18%.
Many students also reported that the connection with the school is getting closer, and there are more opportunities to talk to teachers.
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A team of researchers in southwest England suspects that teenagers who go to school in remote areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic may feel more anxious.

 

Some teenagers are less anxious in distance education

They believe that many teenagers worry about friends and family members getting sick. Moreover, due to isolation at home, their social support will also decrease.

However, when they investigated, they were surprised by the results: the students were actually reducing anxiety.

In addition, they also enjoy other benefits such as a happier life and more connections with the school.

How the research is conducted
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol, uses an ongoing study on social media use and adolescent mental health.

Before the October 2019 pandemic, participants had already conducted a baseline survey.

To assess the impact of the pandemic, another survey was conducted in the April/May time frame.

More than 1,000 grade 9 students from 17 secondary schools in the southwest of England participated in the study. The ninth grade is equivalent to the eighth grade in the United States.

What the researchers found
The research team found that before the pandemic, 54% of 13- to 14-year-old girls were at risk of anxiety, while during the lockdown, this number dropped by 10%.

In the initial survey, 26% of boys in the same age group were at risk, compared with 18% during the lock-out.

However, the level of depression remains fairly stable, with girls’ risk figures increasing by 3% and boys’ risk decreasing by 2%.

Many teenagers report that their happiness in confinement has improved. Boys report greater progress than girls. In addition, those who reported the lowest happiness before the pandemic made the most progress.

Many students also reported that the connection with the school is getting closer, and there are more opportunities to talk to teachers.

Among girls, increased happiness and decreased anxiety seem to be related to increased use of social media.

What can schools learn from this research?
Emily Widnall, the lead author of MSc, said she and her team were surprised when they saw the survey results.

Many people, including child health experts, expect to see anxiety increase.

She said: “No matter what you step back, we all know that many young people’s schools can be very anxious about exam pressure and challenging peer relationships (including bullying).

“This is a very unique opportunity to understand how many teenagers feel without the daily stress of school life…”

She said her team plans to conduct further research to explore why the school environment can cause anxiety and how school culture can better support the mental health of young people.

She added, “The key is that we pay close attention to the mental health of young people and their return to school life because we are likely to see a surge in anxiety, especially for those who were not so close to the school pandemic, so It may have adapted well to the lock.”

She further noted that young people reported that although they did not go to school, they had more connections than ever before.

She said: “In terms of future use as learning tools in schools, digital platforms may play a greater role.”

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