The effects of social distancing policies on children's language development, sleep and executive functions.

  • Funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:7 publications

Grant number: ES/V004085/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    Oxford Brookes University
  • Research Category

    Secondary impacts of disease, response & control measures

  • Research Subcategory

    Social impacts

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details


  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Children (1 year to 12 years)Infants (1 month to 1 year)

  • Vulnerable Population


  • Occupations of Interest



The environments children grow up in heavily influence key elements of cognitive development such as language and executive functions, which in turn associate with later educational and occupational attainment as well as health and wellbeing (1-8). The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime situation that has dramatically changed the daily lives of millions of families. Several environmental factors likely to be affected by quarantine measures (such as sleep (9-17), parenting style and social interactions (18-22), screen use (23-27), and outdoor activities/exercise (28)) are known predictors of language and executive function development. The proposed study will follow up a UK-wide cohort of 600 children aged 8 to 36 months of age, enrolled in an online study at the onset of social distancing measures, to capture changes in key environmental variables and measure their impact on children's vocabulary size and executive function. Using sophisticated analyses on a large and diverse sample, we will examine the role of each factor on children's cognitive abilities. At this time of unforeseen and ongoing change, it is imperative to understand the impacts of the lockdown on cognition during a critical period for development (0 to 3 years of age), and then find strategies to minimise disruption to this cohort. Our findings will identify approaches that mitigate the temporary loss of formal early years' education, identify those groups most at risk of adverse consequences, and inform policy on how to remediate the negative impacts of lockdown post-COVID-19.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:41 minutes ago

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Rates of family history of autism and ADHD varies with recruitment approach and socio-economic status.

More frequent naps are associated with lower cognitive development in a cohort of 8-38-month-old children, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Caregiver sensitivity supported young children's vocabulary development during the Covid-19 UK lockdowns.

Toward a dimensional model of risk and protective factors influencing children's early cognitive, social, and emotional development during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not all babies are in the same boat: Exploring the effects of socioeconomic status, parental attitudes, and activities during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic on early Executive Functions.

Young children's screen time during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 12 countries.

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) during COVID-19 boosts growth in language and executive function.