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

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Most Read