Why COVID-19 messaging is important for teens and young children

As COVID-19 variants spread faster, the drive to prevent the virus from spreading into classrooms has also pushed students across the country to learn online – again.

Teens, like their parents, are feeling pandemic fatigue, but a health researcher said it is essential that young adults be part of the message.


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“Children of course feel tired,” said Timothy Caulfield, law professor and researcher at the University of Alberta Institute of Health Law.

“There is concern that this may lead to complacency in adhering to public health guidelines… we have seen this happen in some jurisdictions.”

Caulfield is on a mission to debunk health myths and misinformation – COVID has kept him busy.

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“Research conducted with adolescents and young adults suggests that they are more likely to fall into disinformation.”

Caulfield said the fact that high school students are on the phone often has made them targets for incorrect information regarding the pandemic. He stressed the importance of teaching all students about media and science culture.

“I don’t think we can teach critical thinking early enough. Let’s teach it in elementary school so kids can find out what’s real and what isn’t. “

Caulfield said the message mattered more than ever right now, as teens and young adults “don’t feel the risk so much.”

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“So I think the children’s story has to really be about the community – your role in helping this whole community get through this pandemic.

“I think kids resonate with it. I think the movements mean something to the kids.

Caulfield said for elementary school students social distancing and masking have become routine, but science-based facts are still essential for children.

Dr Stephanie Liu, a family physician in Edmonton and clinical assistant professor at the University of Alberta, has worked to ensure that young children and their parents know the facts.

Liu writes a blog called The life of Dr Mom provide parents with credible medical information.

Liu has also written a series of children’s books. The current pandemic has led her to create “Georgie Shark and COVID-19. “

The story explains why Georgie still can’t visit her grandparents and still has to wear a mask.

“I wrote the book to explain why the world is so strange right now,” Liu said.

Like many parents, Liu said at the start of the pandemic, she was afraid of the unknown and of the illness of her two young children.

“Every time they touched a surface, I would say, ‘Don’t touch it! “”

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Liu said she realized that she was scaring her daughter Madi, now four years old, and her son George, 16 months old.

“The reason I wrote this book is that I think the illustrations, the message are clear but also a little softer. It really is a good way to explain COVID to kids. “

Dr. Stephanie Liu with her son, George. Liu wrote a children’s book to explain COVID-19 to young children.


“Science-based books. This is exactly Georgie Shark’s goal. I want parents to know that this is credible information that they can show their children, ”Liu added.

Caulfield reiterated the need to work with older students at a level they also understand.

“Let’s use these hashtags, engage the kids so that they recognize that they are not doing it for themselves,” he said. “They don’t even just do it for their family, they do it for their community and I really believe the kids are responding to this message, certainly the teens are.

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“Not only is this scientifically correct, but I think it’s a constructive science communication strategy.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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