As you are hopefully well aware Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has crippled the country. The health, hospitality, financial and even educational industries are all currently on very shaky ground. We are all affected. However, some families are feeling it more than others. In this blogpost we will look at how families are being affected by Covid-19 and what support is available.
Before Covid-19, most of us used technology is some sort of way. However, with the pandemic our use of technology is, what some would say, out of control. We use technology now for our kids lessons, for work video conferencing, for promoting our business, to call our friends and family, through social media, to find out the news, to shop, to play games, to discover and learn, to even order a taxi, book an appointment or buy in Starbucks! According to Bosco, an app that monitors online and social activity of children and young people, "social distancing and self-isolation at home have resulted in nearly a two-fold surge of children's smartphone screen time" (Jary, 2020). The article continues that overuse of technology could be affecting children's health, development, physical and mental wellbeing.
Most children, young people and adults are these days expected to have access to a computer. According to the Office for National Statistics the number of people who don't use the internet has declined (Office of National Statistics, 2019). In 2017, a literature review was undertaken by UK Council for Child Internet Safety and it was found that 94 percent of children aged 5-16 used the internet (House of Lords, 2019). It is almost expected now that families and children should be computer literate and anyone who isn't is left behind.
"School closures and absences during Covid-19 have necessitated home-schooling and online distance learning". However, the digital divide (i.e, those who can afford technology have it, compared to those who can't) has resulted in many disadvantaged children not being able to access remote learning. Some children do not have access to devices or internet connections. "An Ofcom survey from Jan-March 2020 found that 9% of households containing children did not have home access to a laptop, desktop PC or tablet." (UK Parliament, 2020). This can be devastating to a child both educationally and socially.
Additional to all this, parents need to be more vigilant concerning their child's safety online. Europol, according to NSPCC, reported "an increase in some countries in offenders attempting to contact young people via social media since the outbreak of the virus (NSPCC, 2021) (Europol, 2020). As well as families needing to be more aware of cybercrime, phishing, ransomware, the dark web and the increased risk of misleading and false information, they need to keep their children safe from online abuse, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, sexting, grooming, radicalisation, violence, advertising online and ensure children are on age appropriate sites, online games and social media.
Families are struggling financially too. Some Mums and Dads have been furloughed, others have lost their jobs altogether or can't be paid because businesses can't afford to and adults looking for work may be struggling. Paying the bills, providing food and warmth for some families has become a real worry. While some Government support is available some adults can't even access this. Financial worries have "added to the general stress and anxiety of the pandemic for many families and children according to The Resolution Foundation's report (Butler, 2021)
So what supports available?
Reading all this sounds pretty bitter doesn't it?! But I think one great thing is people, national services and the Government are all trying to pull together to get us through.
If you are struggling please know you are not alone. The following are a few sources you may find helpful:
The Department of Education is providing laptops, tablets and 4G routers to disadvantaged children who cannot access the technology needed. Parents, carers or pupils should contact their school to discuss organising this (Department for Education, 2021).
The National Careers Service, through the Government, has free courses available through "The Skills Toolkit" (National Careers Service, 2021)
Childline's Calm Zone has lots of activities, videos and games that are free to cope with stress, anger and to just feel calmer (Calm Zone, Childline).
Waltham Forest Prevent Team have created a pdf on "Building Digital Resilience: A guide to online risks and tools to protect yourself, your child and others from harm in the digital space" (Waltham Forest Prevent Team, 2020). It is a good starting point for parents trying to understand e-safety better
Working Families has produced a wonderful guide with FAQs for families struggling financially during the pandemic (Working Families, 2021).
And of course if you're feeling the pinch but still need to support your child academically, RK Tutors is offering tutoring at affordable prices. Prices start as little as £10.00 and as an added addition here's a 5% discount to make your pennies go even further.
For more information visit: www.rktutors.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org