Children who are not able to spend time with their peers due to the curfew imposed on them to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus may become more aggressive and less happy as the duration of social isolation gets longer, a Turkish expert has warned.
The curfew to restrict people under the age of 20 from leaving their homes except if absolutely necessary, which came into effect on April 4, has affected younger children most severely.
Mehmet Teber, a clinical psychologist and pedagogue, warned parents of possible changes in their children's psychological state and said that communication with their peers is a basic need for children, just like drinking water and eating.
Teber said that humans, as social beings, need to communicate with others, noting that although having time to oneself may feel good at the beginning, it becomes harmful to one's psychology as more time passes.
He highlighted that although children are spending time with their parents, this does not meet their social needs fully.
"Just as we cannot socialize solely by spending time with our mothers and fathers, it is the same for the children, as well," Teber said, adding that children need peer relationships and have more fun when they play with their friends.
"Now the fun in their life is lacking," he said.
Teber said he started to hear from families about the impacts of the curfew, as almost 20 days have passed since the decision.
"They complain that their children are more aggressive, more peevish and unhappier," he said.
Double play time
Teber highlighted the importance of having fun and socializing together as a family during this time.
"Parents need to double the time they take care of and play with their children," he said, adding that spending more time with children may make the process easier for them.
He also suggested that children should be allowed to spend time with their friends online.
"In normal times, we would not recommend computer games or virtual environments, but in such extraordinary times, we can allow this," he said.
However, the expert stressed, the guidelines for children have shifted during this extraordinary period, and once these extraordinary measures have passed, children should not be spending as much time online.
He said that if, despite parents' careful attention, a child is showing behaviors such as aggression, sleep deprivation or problematic eating habits, families should consult an expert through the internet.
The novel coronavirus has spread to 185 countries and regions since emerging in Wuhan, China last December, with the United States and Europe being the hardest hit.
As part of efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19, the diseases caused by the coronavirus, many countries have imposed curfews or lockdowns.
In Turkey, the government imposed a curfew for people under the age of 20 or above 65, as well as weekend curfews that apply to 31 mostly urban provinces of the country.