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Children, technology and COVID-19



In all the current talk about the coronavirus pandemic, and its multi-layered impact on our lives, it’s absolutely critical that no one is excluded from this conversation – including children.

Speaking on Wednesday, in a press conference with Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Christine Morgan, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission raised some really interesting points.

Morgan is National Suicide Prevention Adviser to the Morrison government, and clearly said they’ve noted a feeling that Australians don’t feel safe.

Speaking about an increase in calls to mental health and suicide prevention helplines, she said, “What we are seeing with respect to those calls is an increase in the distress levels and an increase in the anxiety levels and in the complexity of what people are feeling.”

She added, “For those Australians who live on their own, who cannot have that tangible reality of a hug from a loved one, we cannot underestimate the mental health impact that is having.”

With social physical distancing restrictions in place, many health services have increased their online capacity.

Children are also being affected by this pandemic. They’re worried about their health and education, and they’re missing their friends from school.

They’re missing their normal routine, their sporting activities and the social element to their clubs.

They’re worried about their future - from schooling to what their world will look like, the environment and jobs.

They’re worried about losing their home because mum or dad lost their job.

They’re missing their extended families and grandparents.

The affect that this current health crisis is having on mental health is immense.

We are all experiencing an increase in isolation, loneliness and feeling a psychological impact – children need to be included in our conversations about this.

Studies have already indicated that the pandemic could have negative effects on children’s physical and mental health. And yet, parents do not have the appropriate mental health or counselling skills to help their children, or themselves.

It’s vital that parents begin conversations with children about these issues to avoid panic and reduce anxiety.

One silver lining coming from the additional government spend on increasing technological capability to deliver health and mental health services online is: children are already comfortable in this space. They’ve grown up utilising technology, mobile devices and applications – and utilising all that’s on offer may well end up avoiding long-term consequences resulting from this pandemic.

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