Parental experiences of distance schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic: Effects on children with and without mental health problems
Background In some lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, schools were closed and children attended distance learning.
Aim To investigate parental experiences of the effects of distance learning on the wellbeing of child and parent(s), and whether this differed between children with and without mental health problems and their parents.
Method Parents of children with (n = 192) and without (n = 271) mental health problems reported their experiences with distance learning. We investigated whether experiences differed between groups of parents, and whether experiences were influenced by characteristics of parents.
Results Parents of children with mental health problems reported the quality of distance learning and the ability of their child to participate as lower relative to other parents. These differences increased when parents themselves were in higher need of support. General experiences and the levels of stress reported by parents did not differ between
groups. Parents reported an increase in their child’s digital media use, particularly for children with mental health problems.
Conclusion Children with mental health problems seem more negatively affected by distance learning, especially when parents have problems themselves. These findings are in line with multiple recent studies and argue for minimizing distance learning.