How COVID shutdowns are hurting kids’ brain development

Badminton and basketball courts stay empty at Palms Middle School, Los Angeles. Photo by Amy Ta/KCRW

With LA’s new citywide stay-at-home order, children are not able to socialize on playgrounds or in schools. How is that affecting their mental health?

“That social milieu, as we call it, on the playground, it's a very dynamic place for children to be able to express themselves creatively, practice their negotiation skills, practice setting boundaries,” says Tara Niendam, associate professor of psychiatry and licensed child psychologist at UC Davis.

She continues, “Young children are not really built to stay in a seat and pay attention for long periods of time. They need to get up and move their bodies, and run and jump, and do all of those things. They're very important parts of cognitive development for young children.

… Many homes in California, apartments, condos may not have access to open spaces where kids can safely go out and play. So these children are now inside in a seat for hours on end, sitting in front of a screen. It really isn't the best place for them developmentally.”