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The Pandemic Has Made Children More Unhappy

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The photo shows two little girls at school © .shock​/​
The study by researchers from TU Dortmund University shows that the well-being of younger children has worsened during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the mood and life satisfaction of younger children? Professor Ricarda Steinmayr and her team from the Institute of Psychology at TU Dortmund University have examined this and compared it with surveys from before the pandemic. They recently published their results in the “Journal of Happiness Studies” and in doing so have presented one of the first longitudinal studies on this topic.

Several studies have already been able to show that the coronavirus pandemic and the infection control measures associated with it have significantly impaired many people’s mental health. Professor Ricarda Steinmayr and her team have now studied the subjective well-being especially of young children.

Comparative data from prior to the pandemic

“Other studies have already shown that subjective well-being can be effective protection against mental illness, during times of the coronavirus too,” explains Professor Steinmayr. “Since we’ve already been looking at factors influencing the subjective well-being of children and adolescents for quite some time, examining the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in this regard seemed obvious.” For this purpose, the researchers conducted surveys at four elementary schools after the first lockdown in May and June 2020, where in the course of another project they had already interviewed the students about their subjective well-being and measured it at three points in time before the start of the pandemic.

Portrait of Professor Ricarda Steinmayr © Dominik Asbach
Professor Ricarda Steinmayr is a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Psychology of TU Dortmund University.

The results show that both positive mood as well as satisfaction with family life have decreased during the pandemic – and that this applies for all children irrespective of social background or gender. The findings confirm what the researchers had already assumed, as Dr. Linda Wirthwein explains: “Social relationships and experiencing self-competence at school, in sports clubs or in other extracurricular institutions are important factors for a child’s subjective well-being. This means that especially children have suffered from infection control measures such as the closure of schools or sports clubs.”

A good atmosphere at school and training measures can enhance well-being

Even if the study is based on a comparatively small sample, several recommendations for action can be derived from it, says Professor Ricarda Steinmayr: “Apart from children’s private circumstances, there are many educational variables that have a positive effect on their subjective well-being, for example a good atmosphere at school. In addition, well-being can be systematically improved through training. Since subjective well-being is very important for mental health, it is important for society not only to overcome the drop in performance caused by school closures but also to compensate for the decline in children’s well-being.”

The researchers are currently working on a study which compares the subjective well-being of adolescents before the pandemic and this year. Here, too, the data reveal a significant decline in subjective well-being, which indicates that simply opening schools and relatively normal school operations this year will not solve the problem, the researchers say.

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Location & approach

The campus of TU Dort­mund University is located close to interstate junction Dort­mund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dort­mund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dort­mund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dort­mund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the uni­ver­si­ty are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dort­mund.

To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.

TU Dort­mund University has its own train station (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dort­mund main station (“Dort­mund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 15 or 30 minutes). The uni­ver­si­ty is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.

You can also take the bus or subway train from Dort­mund city to the uni­ver­si­ty: From Dort­mund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dort­mund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dort­mund main station to the stop “Dort­mund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dort­mund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”.

The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.

The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dort­mund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dort­mund Uni­ver­si­tät S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the uni­ver­si­ty directly with the city of Dort­mund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.

The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.

Site Map of TU Dortmund University (Second Page in English).