Remote Learning: A Risk To More Than Academics

A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the past year of remote learning has taken a toll on the physical, social, mental, and emotional well-being of children.

The CDC survey among a national sample of parents whose children were placed in remote learning environments (full time or part time) due to COVID-related school disruptions points to current and possible future problems for a generation of students and their families.

Compared to families who received in-person instruction, the survey found that families with remote learners suffered negative outcomes in almost all areas related to their wellbeing including the following:

  • Less time spent outside interacting with friends or engaging in physical activities
  • Less time interacting virtually with friends for fun
  • Greater decline in mental or emotional health
  • Greater burdens among parents related to child care, job instability, and lost work—all stressors that may filter down to children

As noted in an Education Week article, the survey results indicate that the impact of remote learning goes well beyond academics:

The findings, while not surprising, are among early data points indicating that the nation’s unprecedented experiment with remote learning isn’t just having major academic consequences. It has also reshaped both socialization patterns and family living situations for a generation of students—with consequences that are likely to be felt for years.

“One of my fears is that we’re going to be so focused on recuperating those learning losses, we’re going to forget that students lost others things—like their ability to be social with their friends and get physical education,” said Deborah Temkin, the vice president of youth and education research for Child Trends, a nonprofit research group, who was not involved in the research.