How Are Kids Handling The Pandemic? We Asked Them.

After an excruciating wait for a lot of households, youngsters ages 5 and older can now be vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. The determination marks a turning level within the pandemic for tens of millions of Americans as they’ll fear rather less and dwell slightly extra.

For greater than a 12 months and a half we’ve been informed that the troubles of adults have modified the lives of youngsters in all types of deleterious methods. And so, on the eve of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s determination to approve vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds, we wished to know simply how children (and their mother and father) had been doing. Are children and youngsters confused, depressed and scared? How do they see themselves and their households modified by the pandemic? And how has their habits modified to assist scale back the unfold of COVID-19 of their day by day life? 

To assist reply these questions, we partnered with our friends at Ipsos, the polling agency, to work on a ballot that requested mother and father and youngsters how they’re doing. Between Oct. 25 and Nov. 2, FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos used Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel to survey 689 children ages 5 to 11, 572 children ages 12 to 17 (let’s name them “teens” for our functions), and greater than 1,500 of their mother and father. The solutions had been shocking! We discovered a inhabitants of youngsters who seem like fairly resilient, even within the face of loneliness and isolation, and who’re forming sturdy relationships with their mother and father and households. Any one child who’s struggling due to the pandemic is a supply of concern. Overall, although, America’s children aren’t as downtrodden as they’re usually made out to be.

A child walks with her mother to the observation area after receiving a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Most children stated their lecturers and pals repeatedly put on masks at college, although there have been variations relying on the place they lived.

Emily Elconin / Bloomberg through Getty Images


You can see all the poll results here. These had been our highlights:

Parents are involved about their children, however children are having a fairly good time

The children are all proper — or, no less than, they report being much more all proper than we had been anticipating. The COVID-19 pandemic drastically modified the lives of kids and youths, chopping them off from pals, actions and adults apart from their mother and father. The mixture of restricted social contact, disrupted education and worry of the virus itself led many to anticipate a significant psychological well being disaster looming in youth. A ballot performed this previous spring by the Children’s Hospital of Chicago discovered 65 percent of parents believed the mental health consequences for kids will be worse than for adults. So we had been stunned to search out that the youngsters who participated in our survey virtually universally don’t describe themselves as struggling.

For instance, we requested teenagers, ages 12 to 17, concerning the present state of their psychological well being and a overwhelming majority had good issues to say.

All issues thought of, teenagers (and oldsters) are feeling good

Answers to questions on psychological well being and share of respondents from FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos ballot on COVID-19, by cohort


How would you describe your psychological well being? mother and father youngsters
Very good or considerably good 88% 89%
Very poor or considerably poor 10 8
No response 1 2
How involved are you about your child’s/your psychological well being? mother and father youngsters
Very or considerably involved 34% 17%
Somewhat or in no way involved 65 80
No response 1 2

Survey performed Oct. 25 to Nov. 2, 2021. Based on a pattern of 1,509 mother and father and 572 youngsters (ages 12 to 17).

Source: FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos

In reality, their mother and father had been slightly extra more likely to report poor psychological well being — 11 % of oldsters to eight % of the kids. FiveThirtyEight and Ipsos requested children aged 5 to 11 a barely totally different query — “How do you feel right now?” — and 96 % of them stated they felt very or considerably good.

“That’s great. It’s really good news,” stated Anna Gassman-Pines, a professor of psychology and public coverage at Duke University, once we informed her the outcomes of the survey. “There’s a lot of good developmental science behind the idea that ultimately kids will be resilient.”


The good vibes prolonged to extra particular elements of their lives, too. Overall, teenagers had been much less seemingly than their mother and father to be apprehensive about their potential to carry out at school, much less apprehensive about their potential to take part in actions, much less apprehensive about catching COVID-19, and far much less apprehensive about their psychological well being. While 34 % of oldsters had been involved about their children’ psychological well being, about half as many teenagers — 18 % — discovered their very own psychological well being regarding. More than half stated their psychological well being hadn’t modified in any respect for the reason that begin of the pandemic — 24 % stated it had gotten worse and 20 % stated their psychological well being was now higher.

High School basketball cheerleaders in the stands wearing masks.
Most children reported they’re nonetheless enjoying outdoors with one another, however lower than half of youngsters are attending membership conferences or enjoying sports activities inside.

Ben Hasty / MediaNews Group / Reading Eagle through Getty Images

Meanwhile, whereas mother and father had been busy worrying, teenagers had been reporting … having a great time with them. Twenty-seven % of teenagers reported that the pandemic led to enhancements of their dwelling lives and 30 % reported having higher relationships with their mother or father(s). And greater than 90 % of youngsters of all ages felt that their mother and father had performed a great job retaining them protected through the pandemic. 

Gassman-Pines’s own research has focused on the impacts COVID-19 had on low-income families, and notably the households of people that labored within the service business through the pandemic. She was pleasantly stunned to search out that the excellent news remained largely good even once we broke our respondents down by revenue and race. There had been some variations, although. Black mother and father had been extra seemingly than white mother and father to report that they had been involved about their private funds, and low-income mother and father reported worse funds and bodily well being than higher-income mother and father. And teenagers and kids of coloration had been extra petrified of COVID-19 and of being lonely. But the shares of teenagers who felt good about their dwelling lives, relationship with mother and father, psychological and bodily well being, and present loneliness had been principally constant throughout race and revenue. Even when mother and father had been having a tougher time, and youngsters had been extra apprehensive, the outcomes for these children weren’t notably worse. It’s potential, Gassman-Pines stated, that that is an indicator of the optimistic, stabilizing impacts of stimulus and child tax credit funds — one thing that’s been noticed in different analysis.  

Kids say they’re residing in a world making an attempt to maintain them protected from COVID-19

We had been additionally stunned to see excessive charges of reported masks utilization and different behaviors to maintain folks protected from COVID-19. Eighty % of teenagers and youthful children reported that their lecturers had been persistently or all the time carrying masks at college, 70 % of each teams reported that their pals had been persistently doing the identical, and greater than 70 % stated different children at college had been. The children and youths in our survey additionally reported that they, themselves, had been masks carrying at charges greater than 70 %. 

Predictably, there have been geographic variations on this knowledge. Teens within the Northeast had been most probably to say their lecturers all the time put on masks — greater than 75 % of them. Those charges had been lower than 50 % within the Midwest and South. This tracks with rules. Schools within the Northeast have been more likely to implement and maintain masking mandates than faculties within the South. Cases of COVID-19 in youngsters have adopted the identical patterns, with higher rates in the Southeast and South than within the Northeast. 

There had been additionally variations in habits by race. White children had been extra more likely to report having indoor playdates within the final month — a very attention-grabbing end result provided that white children had been additionally those least more likely to be apprehensive about contracting COVID-19 themselves. 

Kids’ relationships with their pals are comparatively worse off

While children and youths have typically optimistic issues to report about their general psychological well being and their relationships at dwelling, the pandemic does appear to have had an impression on how younger folks work together with one another and the way they really feel about these adjustments. Indoor actions are nonetheless not the norm for most youngsters. Fewer than 50 % of each teenagers and youthful youngsters had had an indoor playdate within the final month; fewer than 40 % had attended an indoor social gathering; and solely 41 % of teenagers and 31 % of youthful youngsters had attended an indoor membership assembly or performed sports activities inside. In distinction, 64 % of teenagers and 77 % of youthful children had performed with their pals outdoors, an exercise that’s considerably much less more likely to result in COVID-19 transmission. 

And we see some huge contrasts in how children and youths take into consideration their pals versus their household. While 30 % of teenagers reported improved relationships with mother and father since COVID-19 started and solely 7 % reported these relationships worsening, the adjustments in relationships with pals had been much more cut up, with 27 % reporting that their friendships and social lives had gotten higher and 29 % reporting they’d gotten worse. 

Likewise, 26 % of teenagers reported feeling much less linked and extra lonely for the reason that begin of the pandemic, whereas 25 % reported feeling extra linked and fewer lonely. While the uncooked numbers had been small, we did see correlations that linked a powerful sense of feeling lonely to a way that one’s psychological well being had gotten worse. 

Families typically agree on vaccines

Parents have spent much more time speaking concerning the vaccine to different adults than teenagers have spent discussing it with their friends — 50 % to 38 %. But that doesn’t imply the kids haven’t shaped opinions on the vaccine and the way it must be rolled out. Those opinions have a tendency to trace with the opinions of their mother and father. For instance, 60 % of oldsters and 61 % of teenagers agreed that faculties ought to mandate vaccines for adults in faculties, together with lecturers and directors. And a smaller majority agreed that faculties ought to mandate vaccines for college kids 12 and older: 54 % of oldsters and 57 % of teenagers. 

About 50 % of oldsters within the FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos ballot had been all in favour of vaccinating their under-12 youngsters, relying on the age of the kid, and between 50 and 60 % of the kids we interviewed had already obtained no less than one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (The survey was performed earlier than the CDC authorized vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds.)

A child in a Captain America costume displays a sticker reading
About half of the mother and father of 5- to 11-year-olds within the FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos ballot stated they had been all in favour of vaccinating their children, and that was earlier than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authorized vaccination for that age group.

Hannah Beier / Bloomberg through Getty Images

We discovered sturdy correlations between mother and father’ attitudes about private vaccination and the attitudes of their youngsters. If you focus simply on teenagers whose mother and father had already gotten vaccinated or had been very more likely to, 79 % of them stated they had been already vaccinated or had been very more likely to be quickly — in comparison with simply 9 % of teenagers whose mother and father weren’t vaccinated and weren’t more likely to be. We discovered comparable patterns with youthful children: 46 % of these whose mother and father had been vaccinated stated they had been (or had been going to be quickly), in comparison with simply 1 % of youngsters whose mother and father weren’t vaccinated and weren’t more likely to be. 

Teens’ and youngsters’ attitudes about whether or not they need to get the vaccine themselves had been additionally extremely correlated with mother and father’ attitudes. Among teenagers and youngsters who had been unlikely to get vaccinated, mother or father opinions mattered considerably greater than whether or not friends had been getting vaccinated or not. 

So, to summarize, children are comparatively glad and listening to their mother and father. Just as we all the time assumed. 

Additional reporting by Anna Rothschild.


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