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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey. Photo Submitted
Rimbey hotel gets new lease on life

The Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey is now open and taking bookings

Leanne Evans, Rimbey Neighbourhood Place Program Coordinator, accepts a donation of $5,000 from Kevin Maxwell manager of Field Support for Telus. (Photo Submitted)
Rimbey Neighbourhood Place making big changes behind the scenes

Rimbey Neighbourhood Place recently recieved a $5,000 donation from Telus

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

File photo
RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A narwhal tusk that was donated to a Goodwill store in northwest Calgary this summer will soon be gifted to the Arctic Institute of North America (Hesam Rezaei)
Narwhal tusk discovered in Calgary Goodwill pile to be donated to university

The tusk had federal hunting tags from 1978 attached that say animal was harvested from the central Arctic

(The Canadian Press)
Alberta-raised Cree actor lands role in Disney’s live-action ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

Tiger Lily is featured in Disney’s 1953 animated “Peter Pan” film

Most Read