Three ways girls have been affected by the pandemic...

...and resources to help you support them

29 April 2021

We’re only just starting to understand how lockdown and the pandemic have affected children and young people.

Our own recent research, ‘Back in lockdown: Girls’ and young women’s hopes and fear for the future’, found that the pandemic has caused massive changes that have deeply impacted girls' lives. It has taken a toll on their mental health and shaped their views on the world – bringing a new appreciation of the things they’ve had to go without.

Lots of other organisations have been doing research too. To help you support the girls and young women in your life, here’s a round-up of some interesting findings.

1) Children are struggling more with their mental health

We know that the effects on children’s mental health have been huge. In our own research, 64% of girls aged 11-18 said the pandemic and latest lockdown negatively affected their mental health, compared with 38% in the first lockdown of March 2020. They also generally felt more lonely (42%), sad (43%) and worried (44%) during the 2021 lockdown than in 2020.

This was echoed in research from YoungMinds. 75% of young people aged 13-25 with mental health problems said that the most recent lockdown had been harder to cope with than the previous ones. They also feared that the pandemic will have a long-term negative impact on their lives, and are worried about their prospects for the future.

Co-Space also found that there was an impact on children aged 4-10, with more of them having emotional problems, feeling more restless, and finding it difficult to focus. 

How you can help

2) Girls find it helpful stay active and get outdoors

Overall, children's activity levels decreased during the pandemic. The Sport and Recreation Alliance found that overall, boys (47%)  were still more likely to be physically active than girls (43%). However, during the summer of 2020, girls’ outdoor activity increased more than boys' did, suggesting that girls were better at adapting to keep active during the pandemic.

Girls also told us during our own research that getting outdoors and being in nature helped them to feel better. 

How you can help

  • Even when the weather is still a bit nippy, there are lots of activities you can do with your children outdoors! We came up with some suggestions. Here are 11 things to do outdoors and 12 awesome after-dark activities.
  • If you want to encourage your daughter to feel enthusiastic about getting outdoors, check out the Generation Green project! You could take the family camping at one of our activity centres, or try out a night under the stars. 

3) Children spent more time online, and many girls are struggling with body confidence

Ofcom research from August shows that all children were spending more time online during lockdown, especially early on in 2020. Some teenage girls said that they were feeling insecure about their bodies, and feeling pressure from seeing others exercise a lot on social media.

We also saw this in our research, especially with older girls. A quarter aged 15-18 said that they felt under more pressure to look a certain way, and a third said that social media has negatively affected their sleep and mood.

How you can help

  • Talk about exercise in terms of what you can gain, rather than what you can lose! When you talk about exercise, try to talk about it in terms of getting fitter and having fun, rather than losing weight. This will help girls associate exercise with its positive benefits, rather than negative feelings.
  • Try out some of our Adventures at home activities and challenges to help keep children of all ages entertained. Finding fun things to do together offline can be a great distraction from the outside pressures that lots of girls are facing right now.