Children's experiences with digital learning during COVID-19

Exploring the findings from the Children's Advisory Panel, an initiative in collaboration with child rights organisations and schools in seven countries across the Nordics and the Baltics. Ipsos analysed the material and produced this report from the study.

Schooling / Learning

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Greater independence, improved results and more parent involvement

Support and interaction between classmates and with the school/teachers has decreased.

Gains – Increased independence, improved results and more parent involvement challenges – new ways of interaction

Digital schooling seems to have paved the way for an increased independence in relation to learning and schooling. Tasks the students have done on their own has increased for a majority in all countries and within all age groups. Furthermore, a majority of the students state that their ability to independently solve tasks has improved.

Independence also entails planning and scheduling your studies and activities, and a majority in all countries state that their ability to take breaks during studying has improved after digital schooling started.

The results also show that students own learning and results has improved for many – especially in the Baltic countries where almost half says it has improved.

In contrast to independence, we can see that parents has become more involved in their children's schooling as a result of digital schooling. In all markets we see a majority of kids who states that support from parents has improved (around half in all markets). This goes especially for the younger age group between 10 to 12 years.

Challenges – New ways of interaction

At the same time that independence has increased, the level of interaction with classmates and teachers has decreased. The results show that tasks done with classmates has decreased in all countries and within all age groups. Also, the discussions held around tasks has decreased for a majority in all countries.

The interaction in terms of support from school (teachers and student health) has become worse for a majority in all countries. Also, opportunities to ask classmates for help has become worse for many, especially among the youngest kids.

However, at the same time a majority states that they have learnt new communication tools and new ways of communicating with teachers. When asked what support from teachers they find the most important the top answers in all markets are that the teachers are available for questions outside of classes and give useful feedback on assignments. This could indicate that there is still no satisfying way of communicating between student and teacher, or between classmates, outside of an online classroom setting. A challenge is thus to create new satisfactory ways of interaction within the framework of digital schooling.

Wellbeing / Safety

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Mental and physical wellbeing mostly unaffected.

Bullying has decreased

Unstimualting – many feel bored and tired

Less time with friends

Exercise and sports exchanged for screen time

Gains – Less bullying, more time with family/pets, new habits and online safety

Overall mental and physical wellbeing has been unaffected by digital schooling for a majority of children and remains the same as before. It is as many that says its decreased as increased – around a fifth in each country. Although a majority has felt safe in general during digitally studying from home some have has negative safety experiences. Most common has been being subjected to phishing attempts, especially in the Nordics where about 1 in 5 has experienced this. About 1 in 10 children across countries has been contacted online by an adult they didn´t know.

Both seeing, experiencing and thinking about bullying has decreased, according to 20-30% in each country. Very few feel it has increased during the period of digital studying.

The increased time spent at home during Covid-19 and digital studying has also led to children spending significantly more time with family and pets in all countries, which has the potential to improve social relationships and mental wellbeing.

Furthermore, digital schooling has led to more healthy habits for some children. Kids are getting more sleep, around 2 out of 5 states it has increased. Also, many kids are eating more regularly – especially in the Baltic countries (around a third says its increased).

Challenges – Feelings of being unstimulated and less time for friends and exercise

The most common negative feelings during the period of digital studying from home is feeling bored and tired. Between a fourth to a half of the children in the target countries feel bored, and between a fifth to a third feel tired. A challenge for digital studying is therefor to keep the children feeling stimulated and energized.

Time spent with friends has decreased for a large portion of the children in all age groups, the percentage who states this amounts to 7 out of 10 children in some countries. Time spend on exercise and sports has decreased as well in all countries, from a third to half of the kids says it has decreased. Simultaneously screen time has increased significantly in all countries, around 8 out of 10 says its increased. A challenge for the period of digital studying is to keep children active, both in a social and physical way, to avoid children spending the larger portion of their time in front of a screen which has several health drawbacks.

Society