Vol. 32 No. 3 (2022): Children, Youth and Environments

As we publish our second special issue on COVID-19, many are optimistic that the pandemic is nearing an end.However, as we asserted in our first issue, the real longitudinal impacts of COVID-19 on children, youth, and society are unknown. Current and future waves of infections caused by coronavirus variants and sub-variants make clear that the pandemic is not yet over; the virus will continue to naturally progress. Yet, as CYE goes to press, the World Health Organization is considering whether the pandemic is still an international public health emergency and governments are seeking ways to provide new bivalent vaccines to all its citizens and streamline its COVID-19 guidelines to accelerate a return to normal life activities. Travel has resumed, increasing the potential for contracting COVID-19, schools are in session face-to-face with virtual forms of education that may be enduring, and workers are negotiating new approaches to fulfilling their job duties. Yet, worldwide effects on children and youth are evident as reported across our two special issues and within others’ research and the public media. Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological systems theory with its concentric circles of complex relationships visibly frames the impact of the pandemic --from government mandates to the closing of businesses and schools, to family health care and financial struggles, to children’s play, learning, and life experiences. Articles in this special issue focus on how activities for children and youth had to yield to those impacts -changing venues, utilizing virtual media, and altering transportation modes. This issue also provides insight into family and youth perspectives on caregiving and pandemic-related socio-ecological contexts.

Inside this issue, you will find diverse scholarly work that spans across the globe focusing on the impacts of COVID-19 where children live, learn, and play. We first we head to Europe where Percy-Smith and coauthors sought to understand how the pandemic brought about new opportunities in terms of young people’s personal development, social actorship and political agency, in spite of its detrimental impacts across sevendifferent countries. Next, we make our way across the Atlantic and arrive in Canada where Larouche and coauthors assessed parent-perceived changes in active transportation and independent mobility among 5-to 17-year-olds since the outbreak of COVID-19 through twonation-wide surveys. We then wander south to the United States where Li and coauthors describe the implementation of a multiplatform science learning program that was originally developed for an in-person, formal learning environment and describe modifications made to the program based on infrastructure, preparations, and resource availability to meet the needs of distance learning in formal and informal learning environments due to COVID-19. Staying in the States, Izenstark and Sharaievskaexamined fathers’ perceptions on how their children’s outdoor recreation changed during COVID-19, and differences between rural and urban participants’ outdoor experiences to reveal that due to sweeping lifestyle changes, fathers reported increased time spent outdoors and the development of new outdoor family routines as a way to promote children’s health, fulfill caretaking responsibilities, and promote family relationships. Additionally, urban fathers reported more outdoor restrictions due to local policies whereas rural fathers reported engaging in a larger variety of nearby outdoor activities.

Richmond and coauthors examined how COVID-19 affected the summer activities and environments of children from high-and low-income homes in the United States toshow that youth from high-income homes had access to more enriching activities both before and during the pandemic, even though COVID-19 restricted access to programming for all youth. The authors also identified how work-from-home arrangements and virtual programming that arose during the pandemic could help bridge the opportunity gap moving forward. Ending our tour, we arrive in Illinois where Owens and Adkins explore the intentional design and building process of a camp community in an online program for six programs when that format was not the organizations’ original delivery mode and revealed distinct components that comprise a camp-specific community with pertinent considerations for youth development organizations seeking to create a feeling of community in their online programs. We wrap this issue with a field report from Huber and coauthors who describe and discuss their experiences with Playgroup at Home LIVE, a group of children (birth-5 years) and their parents who meet regularly to play and socialize the transitioned to virtual meetings during COVID-19. Happy reading!

Published: 2022-11-14