One Year of Life Under Lockdown, Through the Eyes of Kids

The Quint spoke to kids under 16 years of age to understand the impact of lockdown on their mental health.

3 min read

Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas, Vivek Gupta

While over 3 crore Indians have taken at least one shot of the vaccine, some Indian states continue to show a rising trajectory in COVID-19 cases – the pandemic seems far from over.

Amid numerous changes in lifestyle, the constant fear of contracting the virus, and adapting to new norms have impacted the mental health of children. It has become vital to ensure their well being and help them cope in such times.

The Quint spoke with kids under 16 years of age to understand what they have been going through, living under lockdown for the past one year.

From coping with mental stress caused by online classes, cabin fever, and the fear of contracting COVID-19 to spending time with family and learning new skills, kids tell it all.

‘‘I wish I was a grown-up; I would have slapped corona.’’
Saumya, 5 yrs old

Death, frustration, fear, lockdown – these were some of the first thoughts kids mentioned when we asked them about the virus.

When told to explain how did the lockdown make them feel, the emotions were more or less the same. Most kids expressed feelings of loneliness, being stuck, static, imprisoned, among others.

“We got frustrated after living together at home during the lockdown. Everyone became short-tempered, especially my sister who was already grumpy. She became crankier during the lockdown.”
Divyansh, 14 years old

The impact of the lockdown on the mental health of the kids was evident as most of them rated their anxiety and stress levels over five on a scale of 1 to 10. They were distressed at getting infected with the virus, loneliness, their parents’ job loss, and studying online.

‘‘I was concerned about recovering the losses I saw around. So, I, with some of my friends, started volunteer work of educating three to four kids who live nearby, by providing basic education or helping them with worksheets they get from schools.’’
Fauzia, 16 years old
“I don’t belong to a rich family. I witnessed how my family was coping with poverty and my parents using the last of their savings. I used to go early to get the number, register online, stand in the queue for ration.
Lucky, 16 years old

Online-Learning Experience

After a month of online classes, most kids said that they missed going to school and spoke about coping with the consequences of online learning.

While some had resources others were still facing issues such as slow internet connectivity, difficulty in holding attention, and lethargy. Others mentioned about not having the resources, sharing one smartphone with their parents and siblings, which made studying and submitting assignments on time very difficult.

“In the beginning, everyone felt that online classes are the best. Gradually, everyone realised that we can’t get the best teaching experience online.”
Divyansh, 14 years old
“I used to wake up early and do my worksheets from my father’s mobile phone. And in the evening, I used to submit my work from his phone itself.”
Samiya, 12 years old

While children were dealing with these problems, almost each one of them knew someone who was infected with COVID – a distant uncle, a classmate, a neighbour or a grandfather.

“My mother became even more protective after that. I used to go out to buy milk, but I stopped doing that as well.
Divyansh, 14 years old

Learnings from the Lockdown

“During the lockdown, I realised how privileged I am. During the time people were migrating, I was travelling in my car with the A/C on while people were dying while walking to their hometowns. So, I was feeling weird and sad. I felt helpless.”
Sreejani, 15 years old

Realising that she was inside and in the safety of her home while there were many outside who were unsafe and hungry, 9-years-old Ruhani wishes that she could end hunger.

There were other kids too who spoke about being humble and thankful for what they have, witnessing humanity win as many came forward to help those in need.

This shows that the pain of migrant workers and poor conditions of fellow citizens didn’t go unnoticed by these children. This reinstates hope in the future of India.

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