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How is the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacting Parenting?

Health & Psychology United States of America

Credit: Picsea on Unsplash

Study Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous financial strain and material hardship for families across the globe. According to one recent survey, 43% of parents in the United States report that they or a family member has lost a job or work hours, and about 33% have had to take time off from work to stay home and care for their children (Karpman et al. 2020). Much prior research has shown that children’s early life experiences are pivotal for establishing positive trajectories of brain growth, and social, emotional and cognitive development. Thus, it is critical to understand how the pandemic may be impacting the environments in which young children are developing. This study focuses on one aspect of children’s early environments that is a well-known driver of their cognitive development: the speech that parents direct to them.

Study Design

The study team will recruit a sample of 80 caregivers and their infants and collect repeated daily measurements, over a 30- to 60-day period, of caregivers’ experienced hardships, stress, worries, and emotional well-being, as well as their conversations with their children recorded at home. The team will assess both contemporaneous and lagged associations among caregivers’ hardships, stress, well-being, and speech to children. The team will use idiographic methods to detect family-specific patterns in addition to larger patterns across the sample.

Results and Policy Lessons 

Results forthcoming.

  • Language and Cognitive Development Lab

2020 – ongoing

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