Social isolation can have devastating effects and this is especially true for children. Loneliness, which is often associated with isolation, is perhaps the least harmful effect but one which can predispose children to emotional problems later in life. When kids aren’t having healthy social interactions on a regular basis, it can have real and serious effects on their mental and physical well being.
Impacts on mental and physical health
Right now, many children are learning remotely instead of going to school. One hazard of this situation is that some children may become isolated, completely losing touch with friends. Social support and spending time with friends are strong protective factors against mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Isolation can also create cognitive decline, poor sleep quality, a weakened immune system, and even potential heart problems if it continues long term.
Symptoms of depression in kids
Compared with adults, kids tend to have a harder time communicating their feelings. Kids who are isolated can become depressed, exhibiting behavioral symptoms that include but aren’t limited to:
- Changes in attitude, being negative, agitated, angry, or sad
- Lack of desire to engage in regular activities
- Less energy, which may manifest in slower movement and speech
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Complaining about tummy aches and headaches
Ways to prevent isolation
- Talk about feelings of loneliness with kids. Acknowledging children’s feelings of isolation and sharing your own feelings can help.
- Find ways to keep in touch with friends and family. Take advantage of technology in the form of online chats or old-school phone calls. Arrange activities or time for kids to interact with their friends in socially-distanced outdoor settings.
- Consider adopting a pet. It’s true. Pets can help diminish and even prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation in children—and adults!
- Connect with kids through meaningful activities like reading, biking, drawing, gardening, or baking.
Juvo takes a comprehensive and personalized approach to inspiring meaningful change. If your child is suffering negative impacts from social isolation, he or she needs support. To learn more about the behavioral health and counseling services provided by Juvo, request a consultation today.