Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on adolescents’ and children’s lifestyle behaviors

Many studies have examined how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affected the lives of children, but most were carried out during the initial wave, beginning in 2020.

Study Habits of life of children and adolescents during the COVID-19 first two waves pandemics in Switzerland and their relation to well-being: A population-based study. Image Credit: L Julia/Shutterstock

A new preprint from the server discusses changes in physical activity, screen-time and sleep duration in adolescents and children in Switzerland and how they relate to wellbeing.


The majority of previous studies looked at the differences in children’s lives prior to and after the lockdowns that defined the initial pandemic phase. The majority of studies ended in June of 2020 and only one aspect of lifestyle was examined. None of these were extensions of pre-pandemic lifestyles.

It is undisputed that both children and adults have experienced significant changes as a result of the pandemic. In the beginning, schools in Switzerland changed to online mode in part or completely until August 2020. At that point classes returned in person, with strict mitigation measures in place.

After a spike in infections in fall and early winter of 2020, classes were held but other leisure facilities were closed to some extent, if not until 2021. All of these drastically decreased physical activity (PA) while pushing up the amount of screen time (ST) in the infant age group.

Some studies in different regions and countries showed that children who are inactive were three times more likely than those who had less than two hours of ST per day. Additionally, sleep disorders are becoming more frequent.

Certain studies have demonstrated that having more ST results in better well-being, while more PA results in better well-being. The current study sought to study the three measures together as well as their relation to the wellbeing of children.

What did the study reveal?

Researchers have compared the effects of pandemic and preandemic measures in these regions. They observed that during the pandemic the proportion of children who were healthy PA and ST decreased significantly during the time period between March and May 2020, and more children met those requirements for healthy sleep. The second period, October 2020 to January 2021 saw a partial recovery in healthy PA and ST but it did not reach pre-pandemic levels for children aged 10-18 years old.

Children aged 5-9 were able to receive less than adequate PA but ST compliance increased to pre-pandemic levels in the second wave. Sleep issues remained a concern despite modest increases in compliance among older children (>10 years of age). The 15-18-year-olds had the lowest compliance across all areas of the study.

Incredibly, even though the trend of change was the same for both sexes, girls were always less likely to reach the required levels regardless of age or period of time and, as before, the lowest levels of compliance being observed in those aged between 15 and 18 years.

The researchers found that children who were getting enough PA, limited ST and enough sleep had nearly twice as high odds of having a good life and good health as compared to children who were lagging in all three areas, with around 60% more chance of having high life satisfaction and high life satisfaction.

If any of the two indicators were evaluated in conjunction and compared, the same trends were observable for both indicators. It is interesting to note that the association between the amount of recommendations made by a child and well-being, especially during the second phase of assessment, was strongly linked to wellbeing over the period from January to April 2021 in comparison to the same measures during the pre-pandemic period.

What do you think the implications are?

The findings show that the pandemic negatively affected children’s wellbeing, and lifestyle , and are closely associated. While certain of the recommended practices have been restored in part however there is still a lot to be done.

Researchers recommend that policies that restrict social interaction to stop transmission of disease be developed while considering the consequences of infection prevention as well as encouraging healthy lifestyles. If these changes in the way of life are a regular feature in the crucial adolescent and childhood years, they may not be easily corrected, leading to chronic illnesses.

The importance of this age’s predictive value for wellbeing also highlights the importance of policies for public health to prioritize an adequate PA. This implies providing enough time and a safe environment while restricting ST by providing suitable alternatives.


public health policies that help children well-being and wellbeing should be geared towards PA, ST, and sleep simultaneously.”

The study that first showed how compliance with ST, PA, and sleep parameters changed among children affected by the pandemic could guide future interventions to encourage optimal health and well-being by communicating these findings, making available options for enjoyable PA, and alternatives to ST while also promoting the habit of sleeping.

Journal reference:

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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