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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 12-13

Reflections for the young Indian minds

Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission16-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication02-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rachna Bhargava
Department of Psychiatry, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_323_20

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How to cite this article:
Bhargava R. Reflections for the young Indian minds. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36, Suppl S1:12-3

How to cite this URL:
Bhargava R. Reflections for the young Indian minds. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Oct 28];36, Suppl S1:12-3. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2020/36/5/12/297168

Though I have not yet been directly affected by the COVID-19 infection, yet its impact has infiltrated all spheres of my life. Living in a nuclear family set-up and being the mother of a teenage daughter initially brought reactions of concern for her: what if both parents got the COVID-19 infection, then who would take care of her? I could discern extreme psychological distress emanating from within her due to frequent spells of short temperedness and irritability in the initial phase of lockdown as the daily life of each family member became disrupted. I can still recall her anxiety writ face when being unable to log in for her unit test.

It additionally got me thinking about how this pandemic is affecting the development of children in this techno-world when we are already concerned with the rising cases of “Gaming Disorder” (ICD 11; DSM5) among adolescents (1.2%–5.9%)[1] and other related comorbidities. The literature search revealed that researchers have primarily focused on understanding mental health issues among the adult population during the pandemic. Though all countries are facing similar scenarios, there is a pressing need to understand the challenges faced by youngsters', during and in post-pandemic era, within their respective cultural contexts; only a few empirical studies that have explored students' mental health and well-being.[2],[3] A similar scenario exists in India where the mental health of children has not been in the forefront, even though 41% of its population is <18 years of age.[4]

The lockdown in India was imposed along with the strict guidelines related to physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing of masks. There was the closure of educational institutions, and children were encouraged to stay at home during these periods of curfew and staggered lockdown. Consequently, screen use became a norm due to physical distancing and online academics. A recent Indian study among college youth reported increase in gaming behavior in one-half of the students during the lockdown.[5] Despite this report, there exists a significant evidence-based gap regarding the relationship between gaming behavior and mental health issues in children and adolescents during the lockdown. This lacuna needs to be overcome as adults' addictive behavioral and substance patterns are oft seen to have onset during adolescence.[1]

Interestingly, it is indeed a paradox where one is concerned about excess screen time and addictive risk, yet the same “vilified” technology is being utilized (and is seemingly helping) to mitigate the impact of social isolation. Adolescence is a period of increased need for peer interaction and acceptance, and social isolation may have far-reaching negative consequences on the brain and behaviour.[6] Digital technology through social media, video chatting, gaming, and blogging has mediated social contacts. Thus, this unprecedented situation calls for action for minimization of “digital divide” for this special age group, lest it may lead to long-term deprivation of the core activities of education and socialization. Educationists and policymakers are no doubt pivotal figures in planning and implementing innovative steps for this, but we too cannot absolve ourselves from the responsibility of balancing the emotional and social needs by collaborating with the policymakers. One certainly needs to undertake preventive measures to optimize stress, lest this boon becomes a bane.

  References Top

Sugaya N, Shirasaka T, Takahashi K, Kanda H. Bio-psychosocial factors of children and adolescents with internet gaming disorder: A systematic review. Biopsychosoc Med 2019;13:3-16.  Back to cited text no. 1
Cao W, Fang Z, Hou G, Han M, Xu X, Dong J, et al. The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry Res 2020;2871-5  Back to cited text no. 2
Liu JJ, Bao Y, Huang X, Shi J, Lu L. Mental health considerations for children quarantined because of COVID-19. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2020;4:347-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kumar A, Nayar KR, Bhat LD. Debate: COVID-19 and children in India. Child Adolesc Ment Health 2020;25:165-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Balhara YP, Kattula D, Singh S, Chukkali S, Bhargava R. Impact of lockdown following COVID-19 on the gaming behavior of college students. Indian J Public Health 2020;64:S172-S176.  Back to cited text no. 5
Orben A, Tomova L, Blakemore SJ. The effects of social deprivation on adolescent development and mental health. Lancet Child Adolesc Health 2020;4:634-40.  Back to cited text no. 6


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