Our Survey into Lockdown's Effects on Children

Our survey revealed that isolation has impacted children’s mental health, but creative play and rediscovering wildlife are the silver lining

Firstly, thank you to everybody who took part in our survey. We had responses from 638 parents of two to eight year olds that revealed that their children’s lack of social interaction and isolation during lockdown was by far the biggest concern.

Symptoms of a knock-on effect on children’s mental health included a rise in tantrums (36% strongly agreed or agreed) and less communication and lowered concentration (36% strongly agreed or agreed). Battling with screen time was also a daily struggle for parents (agreed 43% of parents). The Internet was important for children, however, keeping them in touch with their friends via zoom. Zoom playdates and Skype calls were popular.

More generally, our survey revealed that creative, open-ended activities and outdoor physical exertions were the saviour for parents. Another positive revealed by the research was that children yearn for more varied activities and their creative spark is ignited by open-ended play ideas. Many of these arose from the combined tensions of a summer holiday constrained by lockdown conditions.

The research revealed that:

  • 47% of parents disagreed that their children participated less in drawing, arts and crafts, creative activities.
  • 41% of parents agreed that they ran out of ideas for play with their kids.
  • Parents also discovered a range of activities they would not have otherwise encountered if not for lockdown – in many cases this was rediscovering nature but included other more alternative interests such as meditation.

We partnered with leading online brand, Max Made Me to launch a creative competition for two to eight-year-olds over the summer. Children have been asked to explore their garden, woods or park and create either a painting, collage or mask. The prize, worth £1000, is a playroom makeover – which includes the addition of the NEW Little Imagineers Padoo sofa, four rolls of the Max Made Me exotic terrazzo leaf wallpaper and two A3 prints of their choice. Full entry criteria can be found here.

We recruited five high profile ambassadors with a personal interest in children’s welfare. They are supporting the project as judges for the creative competition, and inspiring children and parents with quotes and memories of their own childhoods.

Angus Imrie, Actor, who stars as Merlin in ‘The Kid Who Would be King’ and Prince Edward in the Crown:
“Whenever children imagine they are digging for gold, when they pretend to be a lion or put on a silly voice, they are performing, they are role-playing! Next time you notice your children doing anything like that, join in and see what happens.”

Craig MacLean, Olympic and Paralympic cyclist and Gold medallist:
“To engage children in physical activity, it is essential that the children enjoy it, it must be fun. If children are involved in the activity choice this may help, but a great idea is parents leading by example so regularly that it becomes a way of life. I loved den making in the woods with my Dad. I was also inspired by Evel Knievel. I was desperate to ride my bike like him so I was forever making ramps, trying to jump further and higher.”

Carol Maxwell, Owner and Founder of Max Made Me:
“We all have a creative streak in us somewhere, and for kids it can be a necessity for that instinct to be fulfilled. For some children it can be used as a tool to get them through difficult times, almost like a therapeutic activity that they can turn to when they are feeling low and sad, perhaps missing a friend. Drawing or painting might well be an activity they need to do to fill that void and express how they are feeling inside.”

Dr Jess French, Vet, Zoologist and Wildlife TV Presenter for Minibeast Adventure aired on CBeebies:
“I’m not surprised that the results suggest that many families spent more time engaging with the natural world during lockdown. I certainly did! There is something really special about visiting the same place every day and seeing how it changes with the time of day and seasons. This is made even more special if it’s right there in your patch – I think it gives you a deeper sense of connection and ownership over that wild space.”

Jane Hardstaff, Children’s Author:
“I see the pure pleasure children get from being told a story. There is no right or wrong way to read to a child. Reading to your child is like casting a spell - a little piece of magic between you, your child and the sofa.

Natalia Baker, Parent Coach, BSC (Hons) Psychology:
“A silver lining from lockdown is that many families discovered the outdoors in new ways. Nature gives us play ideas on tap - even a walk holds a ton of interest for all ages. Arts is the ultimate open-ended activity, with parents finding that just a few materials can give hours of independent play or some quality connection time painting together. Who didn't love making an NHS rainbow? I fully support and am very excited to see the results of the Max Made Me art competition!”

And lastly a few words from us at Little Imagineers:
“We’re pleased to see from the research that parents have discovered the benefits of open-ended unstructured play and that the benefits of physical activity on children’s wellbeing are clearly understood. Parents were quick to prioritise the importance of mental and physical health ahead of schoolwork and found many ways to encourage play and creativity enjoying the extra time spent with their family. We hope that when the pain of the last 18 months is long forgotten, the memories of nature walks, endless board games, role play and stronger family bonds will live on.”