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Online safety: The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children in the UK

02 April 2021
Volume 2 · Issue 2


The coronavirus pandemic has inevitably led to more time spent online, which will have increased the risk of children and teenagers being exposed to cyberbullying and harmful content, among other issues. This article examines available data on the effects of the pandemic on children as a result of their online activity and looks at what schools and child health professionals may need to anticipate in terms of children's mental health following the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has so far resulted in three national lockdowns in the UK. With the implementation of social distancing, people have been encouraged to stay at home and, for the last year, most activities have had to be conducted online from home, or not at all. For children, the pandemic has meant that large portions of their day are spent online, as this allows them to socialise with friends and play games, and much of the year has been spent using remote learning for school lessons.

In April 2020, the United Nations' Children's Fund (2020) released a report on the potential impact of COVID-19 on children's online activity. This report highlighted the heightened risks for children globally, as a result of the increased time they would be spending online during lockdown and remote learning. The risks included greater exposure to cyberbullying or potentially harmful content, and the limited safeguarding put in place by schools.

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