We are just settling down for the Virtual Pub quiz and an online meeting with friends as the first honking of a horn down the street reminds me of the time. We make our way to the front door just as Alex from across the road starts banging on a pan with a wooden spoon. Nicky and Brian, Connie and Barry all appear out front as do several other neighbours whose names I’ve never quite got to know despite living in the street for over twenty years now. The Thursday clap for the NHS and key workers is a consistent marker of time in an otherwise blended week and life.
What does the future hold?
The answer is that no one knows. The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak means that life has changed. The question of how long and how permanently will become increasingly important as lockdown continues. The resultant changes are likely to have an impact on general well-being and mental health immediately and for the future.
The impact on children
Although children appear to be less impacted by Coronavirus and the symptoms of Covid-19, they are undoubtedly at the forefront of the changes in every day life that have resulted from it. Not only have they missed school for over a month, but they have had severe restrictions to their normal day to day activity including the closure of parks, cancellation of clubs and restricted movement and socialisation. Their contact with friends has all but disappeared or taken on a completely different flavor.
Whilst the restrictions caused by social distancing policies have an impact on everyone, they are likely to be heightened for children as they may not have the same levels of understanding and will have less opportunity to make their own decisions. It is therefore imperative that we give them extended opportunities and building on the advice and the Digital 5 a Day Guidance of the Children’s Commissioner, is an excellent way to start.
Technology is key
Technology has for a long time now been viewed as the domain of the young, but not always necessarily in a positive light. Concerns over safety, the impact on relationships and the addictive nature of persuasive design has often grabbed the headlines. But perhaps now, in this strange time of lockdown, social distancing and self-isolation, safe, secure, age appropriate technology may be welcomed more widely, and the positive benefits embraced.
Based on both NHS guidance and the Children’s Commissioners Digital 5 a Day we would suggest the following use of DB Primary can promote well-being and good mental health.
1. Stay connected with people
Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing- www.nhs.co.uk
DB Primary is an ideal platform for children to use for maintaining connections during school closure. All children can connect with their peers through both personal and group communication tools. Class communities are an ideal connection point and children can share what they’ve been up to during school closure.
There is an inevitable difference between children still attending school (key worker & vulnerable children) and those staying at home, but the use of a community classroom space can help them keep in touch and connect throughout. Closing the gap and looking after our school community has never been more important.
2. Talk about your worries
It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too. www.nhs.co.uk
DB Primary offers great opportunities for children to share their worries. The use of moderation in a forum enables children to share their worries with a trusted adult without the need for their peers to know, who can offer reassurance and advice- much as they would do in school in a face to face way. Equally DB Primary offers the opportunity to use email for private, personal communication. Many schools rightly worry about personal contact due to safeguarding reasons, but through DB Primary there are full audit trails and the use of a shared email inbox should allay these fears.
3. Support and help others
Helping someone else can benefit you as well as them, so try to be a little more understanding of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours at this time. www.nhs.co.uk
Children generally love being helpful and being proactive. DB Primary may be used for activities such as Star of the Week that boost self-confidence and self-esteem. The use of a class blog or forum in a community area is a great way to continue some of the activities you’d normally do face to face in class.
4. Look after your body
Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse. www.nhs.co.uk
Being physically active during lockdown is really important! So how can an online tool like DB Primary help here. Lots of schools have used the platform to set physical challenges, whether it’s the toilet roll keep yuppy challenge or the garden work out! Sharing a challenge online across a class or year group is a key way to get engagement and reaffirm the community. Children love sharing their efforts (almost as much as they like seeing their teacher try it out too)
5. Do things you enjoy
If we are feeling worried, anxious or low, we might stop doing things we usually enjoy. Focusing on your favourite hobby, relaxing indoors or connecting with others can help with anxious thoughts and feelings. www.nhs.co.uk
DB Primary gives children the opportunity to be creative. They can write, draw pictures, record themselves, communicate, connect, learn, play games, but most importantly they can share the fun things they are doing offline whether it’s baking or creating masterpieces of collage rainbows to thank you notes.
DB Primary supports not only the NHS approach but also the Digital 5 a day promoted by the Children’s Commissioner. We are committed to safe, secure and healthy online participation for children.