As this lockdown continues and children across the country are still busy with online school, the mental health and well-being of pupils must be considered. Getting outside, moving about and breathing in fresh air proves to be one of the best solutions to the problem of children staring at screens for hours on end.

Whilst modern technology has certainly been a life-line and necessity for providing young students with the accessibility to carry on learning despite the pandemic, there are also serious disadvantages to it.  

Research during this period of lockdown has shown a large percentage of children claiming daily that they have sore eyes, headches or neck and back pain as a result of staring at their computers or phones too much during the day. In addition, there has been an increase in physical lethargy, parthicularly amongst teenagers and, with the lack of organised sport for all ages, we are in danger of coming out of lockdown a lot less healthy than when we went in.  

I interviewed 14 year old secondary school student from Richmond, Matilda Davies, who stated "we need regular breaks from our devices. Yes, they are important during this time, as we maintain contact with friends and have online school, but we need a balance between screen and outdoor activity". She told me that she noticed "sore pain in the neck and shoulders" as well as "constant headaches" from her online lessons- this can definitely be helped by venturing outside, either running or walking with family and friends whilst of course maintaining social distancing rules.

Whether you step outside for a ten minute walk or go for a 5K run, vital endorphins are released, the heart-rate is raised and the fresh air gets your brain and mindset in gear, also helping to promote the production of serotonin, allowing young people to feel happier and less anxious. This is essential; the effects of online school on young students' mentality can be significant, with many admitting that they have become more stressed and unhappy as online learning has continued for months. 

Another reason for leaving the house is to get a change of scene; the majority of students are cooped up in their bedrooms, facing their computer screens and barely moving from this position. When you reflect on what an average day at school used to look like for most young people, it certainly didn't involve staying in one place for every lesson; there was movement, social interaction and several changes of classroom or sports field each day. By incorporating aspects of normality back into their lives, such as discovering a new park or walking with a friend, young students can improve their physical and mental well-being, whilst also not forgetting some of their past daily habits.  

Luckily, with the Government's announcement this week stating that all schools will return on the 8th March, there is light at the end of the tunnel and this tiresome and repetitive period of online schooling will soon be coming to an end. In the meantime, and for the future too, we must remember how crucial it is for young people to prioritise getting fresh air between screen-time, for both their physical and mental health. Hopefully going outside will become the 'norm' for everyone, every day. If this pandemic has taught us anything, we should remember the importance of all aspects of our health and that balance is key to achieving a happy and healthy mind and body.