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Several months ago, schools were asked to do the unthinkable - to put full-time, in-person learning on hold and make a major shift toward remote classrooms. Although this has been a major adjustment for parents and children alike, a new study has shown there are some positive benefits to remote learning in the mental health of teens. Believe it or not, remote learning may actually decrease social anxiety and help increase trust between students and teachers.
How did this study come about?
A couple months back, a group of researchers in South West England suspected that young teens schooled remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic may be experiencing more anxiety. So they put together a study of over 1,000 students between the ages of 13 and 14 (many of them at a high risk for developing anxiety disorders). Initially, they worried that the added isolation may be causing added stress. The results were the opposite. In the girls monitored, 10% of them dropped in anxiety and stress levels during the time they were studied. And even more significantly, 18-26% of boys from the same age group also experienced a decrease in anxiety and stress. In many of the cases, students reported a closer connection with their teachers along the way.
What do these findings tell us?
Emily Windnall, a lead author of the study, admitted she was astonished by the results and planned to do further research on the pressures teens face while they’re at school. Maybe the stress of in-person peer interaction trumps the stress of remote isolation? Maybe distance and autonomy is just as important as face-to-face connection with teachers? It’s hard to know for sure until more studies are performed, but at least one thing’s absolute, teenagers continue to thrive on stability and a consistent counsel from parents, teachers, and role models in their lives.
So as learning continues to evolve throughout COVID-19 and in the years ahead, it’s important for parents to speak with their kids and offer them reassurance and methods to cope with anxiety and stress.
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