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A Look at The Pandemic's Effects on Younger Kids By Sophia Plantz

The Coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but what about younger kids? Yes, according to the CDC they’re less likely to ever actually obtain the virus, but their childhoods have significantly been changed forever due to this global pandemic. Their school memories shifted from group reading with friends, movie/pizza parties, recess everyday, to online zooms. Online zooms that can barely engage kindergarten to fourth grade students is the new norm for young kids. How will this new way of life affect them and their outlooks in the future?

By having a sister in second grade, Phoebe Plantz, I have seen first hand how Covid has affected her and her actions. She used to love going on drives with me, going shopping, even going to a movie with me. When I ask her to join me for the simplest of things such as grocery shopping, she seems scared. She now always makes sure that everything there will be safe and that we won’t be there for too long. “I’m more scared of touching a bunch of stuff because I don’t know who touched it before I do,” she said describing how she feels when leaving the house, specifically for grocery shopping. This has obviously shifted from wanting to touch and play with every toy, and grabbing every yummy snack and dessert possible.

Visiting people we usually would has also become an issue.

“When it first started I was scared to go to my nana and papa’s,” eight-year-old Quinn Riddle said. “They're old and the old people get the Covid, so I was scared for them.”

The new school schedule and set up is also an aspect that younger kids may have more trouble adapting to. If they’re really young, maybe just starting kindergarten, their first years of being introduced to school are much different than ours were. Young kids have now had to learn their way around Zoom with the help of parents or siblings, or even possibly by themselves.

A second grader, Logan Riddle, also eight years old, was asked how he feels about his current school situation when he says,

“I'm happy when we go to school,” said Logan. “When we are on Zoom it's not fun because you can get kicked out because of the internet or you can get distracted very fast.” Added Quinn, his twin sister: “It’s kinda hard working online because I get distracted, so I use putty so that I don't look away because I look at my puppy a lot now that I’m at home.”

Younger kids already tend to struggle with focusing on school, but now at home there are many more distractions readily available.

Making new friends is another struggle that younger children face during these times. Once you get a phone and are able to get social media, you’re able to stay in touch with friends. You can even make new friends or at least meet new people to an extent. When you’re young, your friends tend to be solely based in the school environment, especially when beginning the process of making friends.

How about kids that just moved right before the pandemic hit?

Haley Perkins, 11, and Riley Perkins, 8, are two girls in this situation. Haley and Riley moved from Kentucky to Michigan two weeks before the coronavirus was present in the United States. “When the pandemic hit two weeks after I moved to Michigan, I was already missing my family that I left, but I couldn't travel back to see them and I missed them a lot,” Haley said. “It’s also been hard to make new friends because we knew nobody. Now I have neighbor friends to play with so that’s good. It’s really sad though because I can’t go home very much anymore.”

Riley Perkins (left) and Haley Perkins (right).

Seeing family members also plays a big role in their childhood. We grew up being able to see our friends, cousins, and grandparents whenever it was possible. This is not the case anymore. We now have to adjust to social distancing, wearing masks, and overall zooming with older family members.

“I haven't been seeing my family members,” Phoebe said. “I sometimes really miss them, but I can connect to them on zoom which is better than nothing I guess."

The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Younger kids are at less risk at getting the virus, but are their repercussions also harmful? Their childhoods have been altered to such a large extent that it could affect them in the future. The simplest tasks done outside of the house can seem scary, the difficulty of making and/or keeping in touch with new friends, and seeing family members little to none anymore are all things that the younger generations could struggle with in the future. There’s obviously no way to know how much it could change their paths, but we do know that it won’t be the same as it would’ve been before the pandemic.