The photographer capturing Covid’s impact on children

  • Text by Huck
  • Photography by Bex Day
The photographer capturing Covid’s impact on children
School’s out — After hearing about some of the difficulties children were facing in lockdown, Bex Day decided to document subjects all under the age of 13 to explore just how significantly their lives had changed.

In the UK, as in many countries, children’s lives were turned upside down amid Covid-19 as schooling moved from lively classrooms to hours spent staring at a screen from home as part of a shift to online learning. Not only did this disrupt the learning of many young people, it also hindered their ability to foster social relationships at a pivotal time for emotional development. 

The extent to which lockdown has impacted children is yet to be fully understood. But, early studies suggest that the past year of lockdowns has had an impact on young children’s language skills, with evidence showing that poor speech development can have long-term effects on learning.

Photographer and director Bex Day heard about the unique difficulties children were facing in lockdown from the experiences of a friend. “[My friend] told me how her two year old has been delayed in speech because of the lack of socialisation, and not going to nursery,” she explains.

After documenting her own battles with OCD during the pandemic, Day wanted to continue exploring the mental health impact of lockdown – but this time, turning her lens on children. The resulting project is a series entitled Children of Covid, set to be exhibited from July 9th to 25th at Offshoot Gallery, London.

“I really wanted to give children a voice, and I hadn’t worked with kids before,” Day explains of her motivations behind the project. “At the time, I was looking at a lot of my own childhood stuff in therapy. So I guess it also made me interested as a way of approaching my inner child.”

In order to give her subjects a voice, Day organised for the children she photographed to write a letter accompanying their portrait. One letter capturing the ennui of lockdown reads: “I can’t concentrate on my homework… I really miss my family and having fun birthday parties… I want to go back to school and my swimming lessons”.

While this frustration is unsurprising, what struck Day was the awareness among some of her subjects of becoming more introspective. “They’re mainly bored, but they also said that due to having more time to think, without the usual stimulation, they’re just more curious,” explains Day. “I thought that was really hopeful and interesting.”

There were also many children left feeling “defeated” by online schooling, Day says. “[The children I photographed] were saying how they have people in their class that they don’t really know. And it’s just quite alien for them.”

Overall, though, “a lot of them appreciated the time off school,” says Day. “It’s positive, in a way, because they can continue to do their hobbies. I suppose most kids were quite hopeful.”

Children of Covid will be on display at Offshoot Gallery from July 9th to 25th. 

Follow Bex Day on Instagram.

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