Social Distancing & Development

Oxford Brookes Babylab

The effects of social distancing policies on children’s language development, sleep and executive functions.

What is this project about?

This study examines how changes in sleep, parenting style, social interactions, screen use and outdoor activities/exercise affect young children’s cognitive development during the Spring 2020 UK lockdown.

This longitudinal study followed a cohort of 600 children aged 8 to 36 months of age, enrolled in an online study at the onset of lockdown, to capture changes in their environment and measure their impact on children’s vocabulary size and executive function.

What are the main results of the study?

Our researchers are currently very busy analysing data and writing reports!

Who is conducting this research?

The UK team comprises five experts in the key areas investigated in this project:

  • Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez (Oxford Brookes University)

  • Dr Catherine Davies (University of Leeds)

  • Dr Teodora Gliga (University of East Anglia)

  • Dr Alexandra Hendry (University of Oxford)

  • Dr Michelle McGillion (University of Warwick)

Assisted by Shannon Gibson (Postgraduate Research Assistant at Oxford Brookes University)

Who is funding this project?

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 (ES/V004085/1).

This study is part of a wider project investigating the effects of Covid-19 lockdowns on language development in different countries, led by Julien Mayor and Natalia Kartushina from the University of Oslo. More details can be found on their project and lab website.