MONDAY, Jan. 10, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Parents report that their children’s behavioral health at home is worse during remote learning than with in-person learning, according to a research letter published online Jan. 10 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Emily C. Hanno, Ph.D., from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues administered online surveys four times to 405 parents of children in Massachusetts from Jan. 4 to May 23, 2021. Parents indicated their child’s current learning format in each wave and then reported their child’s behavioral health on three measures: general behavioral health in the last month; number of maladaptive behavioral changes in the previous month; and frequency of dysregulated behaviors. Overall, 348 parents reported on 356 children’s behaviors in at least one of the surveys.

The researchers found that 57.0 percent of the children switched learning formats at least once across the four waves. Children’s behavioral outcomes tended to be worse during remote than in-person schooling. When learning remotely, parents reported that their child exhibited worse general behavior, more maladaptive behavioral changes, and more dysregulated behavior than when learning in person. Children experiencing hybrid learning had intermediate outcomes, with better general behavior compared with remote learning and worse behavior than with in-person learning (coefficients, −0.2 and 0.3 points, respectively).

“Results should not be interpreted to mean that remote learning caused worse behavioral health; rather, the results illustrate that parents perceived their children’s behaviors as having shifted systematically through the COVID-19 pandemic’s educational interruptions,” the authors write.

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