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Pediatricians: Social Distancing, Mask-Wearing Affecting Child Development

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Playing with your peers is an important part of child development. However, kids aren't socializing as much due to the pandemic, which doctors say is leading to concerning outcomes.

"We've seen some language delays and more social anxiety. The inability of a child to leave their parent and go play with other children," said System Chair of Pediatrics at AHN, Dr. Joseph Aracri.

Dr. Joseph Aracri said this is the case particularly for toddlers.

"What happens in that phase of child development is when a child is leaving their parents. They're trying to separate from their parents and figure out their own identity. Why they throw temper tantrums," said Dr. Aracri.

Doctors say quarantining doesn't make things easier. This is why Philip Oskoui put his 4-year-old son in preschool.

"We felt it was important to go to school and socialize with other children because there are things like falling off a climbing structure and learning how to settle differences," said Oskoui.

On top of socializing, pediatricians say masks can make it difficult for small children to understand what someone is saying.

"Things like inflection, reading social cues, facial expressions. We are seeing a delay in that as well. These children are misinterpreting what's going on around them," said Dr. Aracri.

What should parents do?

Pediatricians suggest getting your kids outside when the weather's nice, to play with other kids in places like the playground. That way they get the chance to socialize and have fun at the same time.

However, if you feel more comfortable keeping your little ones at home, doctors say there are other things to consider.

"Then create a pod. You have a couple parents that have children. Everybody who can be vaccinated are vaccinated and allow those children to play together in a safe environment without masks," said Dr. Aracri.

If you're noticing any developmental delays with your child, health experts say talk to your pediatrician.

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