Don’t forget children

Coronavirus is on a rampage across the world. Oman is no exception. Most of us are now confined to homes. Streets are silent, and the yells and laughter of our children in the parks, are missing.

While our eyes are firmly focused on the struggle to defeat this invisible enemy, let us spare some thoughts for our children who are living without schools and their life limited to the four walls. They are the passive victims of family stress including job loss, and anxieties over health and finances.

Adding to the impact is the excessive use of cellphones and other digital devices, especially most schools moving classes online. With the increasing number of educational apps and the focus on e-learning, the use of mobile phones has increased manifold.

The situation complicates as a majority of parents are now working from home. Managing time between work and taking care of children has become a daunting task. Everyone is wondering about a solution to this serious problem.

A UN report has revealed that self-isolation has driven more and more children to move online during the pandemic, leading to an unprecedented rise in screen time and raising safety risks for millions of young people. Increased and unstructured time online may also expose children to potentially harmful contents.

At this juncture, schools should take steps to update current safeguarding policies to reflect the new realities for children learning from home and ensure that they have continued access to school-based counselling services.

And parents should speak to their children to keep a track on how and with whom they are communicating online and set new social media rules.