Pets play important role in easing children's loneliness and stress intensified by virtual schooling in lockdown
- New survey highlights social, emotional and academic benefits for children during remote learning
- 83% of parents believe a pet helped their child feel less lonely and 73% felt their pet reduced stress caused by isolation away from classmates
- Nine in 10 parents reveal their pet has positively impacted their child's home-schooling experience
- As schools return, 80% believe pet interaction should continue in-person
BRUSSELS, April 10, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey conducted by Mars Petcare of 2,000 parents across the UK and US shows family pets help children better manage feelings of stress and loneliness, which have been greatly exacerbated by virtual schooling as a result of the pandemic.
Around the world, 332 million children have lived under stay-at-home policies for at least nine months and nearly 1.6 billion learners have been affected by disruption of in-person schooling. There are early indicators that the pandemic has had a negative impact on children's social skills, productivity and well-being. Save the Children report that more than half of children who were separated from friends during the pandemic reported feeling less happy and more worried and this shift to virtual schooling means students may have more distractions and less oversight, which can reduce their motivation.
For many families navigating the stress and challenges of home-schooling, pets have offered children crucial support. More than eight in 10 (83%) parents found that their family pet helped their child feel less lonely during lockdown, with more than three-quarters feeling that day-to-day interactions with their cat or dog reduced their child's stress and anxiety. Parents agreed their pet supported their child during the unprecedented break from in-person schooling by improving their mood, providing companionship and giving much-needed emotional support.
Pets may make the best study buddy
The survey also found that pets positively impacted a child's experience of virtual learning and academic performance across all ages – with nine in 10 parents seeing improvements in their child's emotional, social and core skill development including having more energy and improved concentration, providing a fun topic of conversation to engage with their classmates and teacher, and giving them a much-needed break away from the screen. More than half (56%) report having a pet helped improve their child's academic performance and 72% say their child is more motivated with a pet around.