The selected online article is titled “Children born during pandemic have lower IQs, US study finds,” where the author reveals findings of a study on children’s cognitive development and intelligence quotient (IQ). In short, the research focused on “672 children from the state of Rhode Island,” where “188 were born after July 2020, and 308 were born prior to January 2019, while 176 were born between January 2019 and March 2020” (Grover, 2021, para. 6). The results show that children in the former group had an average IQ of 100. In contrast, the latter had only 78 (Grover, 2021). The difference between these two values is significant, meaning there is a drastic IQ disparity between children born prior to and during the pandemic.
Although the article emphasizes IQ differences, the original study reveals additional details of cognitive development impairment. The study itself states that “children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic. Moreover, we find that males and children in lower socioeconomic families have been most affected” (Deoni et al., 2021, p. 2).
Therefore, a wide range of cognitive and motor development capabilities of these children was impaired despite the impact of the coronavirus itself. A household’s socioeconomic status has also significantly increased the risk of lower IQ development. Authors claim that these issues are due to the environmental changes due to the pandemic, which resulted in restricted movement, isolation, and lower stimulus input, which all negatively affect child development. Therefore, further studies are needed to observe the extent of this phenomenon since Rhode Island is a fairly developed region regarding the local population’s socioeconomic support. The difference might be even worse in more disadvantaged regions.
The article highlights the serious ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s cognitive and motor development, because the virus did not directly hinder cognitive growth. In addition, the socioeconomic status of a household where children live determines the severity of poor development. A wide range of studies support the findings described in the selected article. For example, one study claims that “severe anxiety or depression among parents and acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress, anxiety disorders, and depression among children” result in a higher risk of developmental delays, which can lead to depression, cognitive impairment, and non-communicable diseases (Araújo et al., 2020, p. 1). In other words, it is a troublesome and worrisome phenomenon that requires a thorough investigation regarding its implications and long-term consequences. In addition, it is critical to design intervention measures to minimize the issue’s impact.
When it comes to the cognitive development of children, especially infants, parental interactions play a major role in facilitating such development. Although one might think that the pandemic resulted in parents being isolated for more time with their children, it is evident that the quality and length of such interactions decreased drastically. Bowlby’s theory of attachment emphasizes the importance of parents’ relationship with their children when it comes to cognitive development (Meadows, 2017). Since parents are forced to work at home and children are almost always with their parents, the only source of interaction is comprised of the latter. Therefore, the lack of quality interactions and inevitable ignoring of children to avoid work disruption results in cognitive impairment. During the pandemic, children have no other source of social interactions except their parents, who are mostly busy with their employment responsibilities. This leaves an overall decrease in quality interactions resulting in poorer development.
Moreover, one should also be aware that children’s development is dependent on a social relationships outside parental interactions as well. For example, Vygotsky’s theory of sociocultural development and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development emphasizes the importance of children being in public and interacting or at least observing larger social environments in order to ensure proper growth (Meadows, 2017). However, the lockdowns severely limited such interactions, which made children highly isolated from society and other children. All of these factors are likely to have a compounding effect on children born during or after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Another important element is the lack of physical development of children since they cannot go and play at various playgrounds. The limited mobility of children and their isolated presence at their homes limits the space in which they can engage in physical activities. It is important to note that physical challenges and plays are critical not only for motor development but also for cognitive development (Meadows, 2017). Staying at home for an extended period of time can make it very difficult to stay physically active. A sedentary lifestyle and low levels of physical activity can have a negative impact on health, well-being, and quality of life.
Being in quarantine can also cause additional stress and put children’s mental health at risk. Outdoor play is a way to transform children’s energy into skills that will be useful to them in adulthood. The complex and varied movements of play activities involve all muscle groups in work, contributing to the development of the musculoskeletal system, normal growth, strengthening of various functions and systems of the body, and the formation of a healthy posture.
Individual outdoor games also develop in children a fighting character, perseverance, a healthy desire to be better than others, and develop leadership qualities. Group lessons teach cohesion, camaraderie, and mutual assistance. Since most outdoor games require a fairly large number of players, the gameplay, in addition to following the rules of the game as such, includes constant communication with peers, which means that favorable conditions are created for successful social adaptation of the emerging personality in the future.
In addition to the fact that outdoor games have a comprehensive developmental effect on the body, they are also very exciting and diverse in content. If one game gets boring, there are always many others to choose from, which results in higher engagement and longer physical activity. For example, it is evident that it is rare to find young children sitting quietly on their own, as they prefer to run, jump, and play noisily, which is why motor skills are crucial for cognitive skills. The mind of the child is aimed at movement, but just running and jumping is naturally boring because certain rules have formed around them, and just physical activity has grown into a game. Most parents try to pay due attention to the physical development of the child. However, in the context of a pandemic and isolation, physical education classes need to be given more attention.
Araújo, L. A. de, Veloso, C. F., Souza, M. de C., Azevedo, J. M. C. de, & Tarro, G. (2020). The potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on child growth and development: A systematic review. The Journal of Pediatrics, 97(4), 1-9. Web.
Deoni, S. C. L., Beauchemin, J., Volpe, A., & D’Sa, V. (2021). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early child cognitive development: Initial findings in a longitudinal observational study of child health. MedRxiv, 1, 1-37. Web.
Grover, N. (2021). Children born during pandemic have lower IQs, US study finds. The Guardian. Web.
Meadows, S. (2017). Understanding child development: Psychological perspectives and applications. Routledge.