PETALING JAYA: Nearly half of children in poor urban families in Kuala Lumpur have been mentally affected by the movement control order (MCO), according to a Unicef report.
In the United Nations agency’s survey of 500 households in the city’s low-cost flats, 47% of the respondents reported that their children were addicted to social media and had problems with their sleep schedules.
One in seven said they believed their children were under stress due to several factors, including lack of interaction with their peers.
Surveys for the “Families on the Edge” report were previously conducted in May, September and December last year. The latest findings are from last month, a year since the first MCO was enforced.
Among the heads of households, one in five are reported to be depressed. Poor mental health is especially prevalent in families led by women due to “increased domestic burden” with more people staying at home.
“Parents continue to worry about their children’s education and whether they can earn enough to provide food for the family,” says the report.
Eighty per cent of the respondents said their children were struggling to focus on their studies and about 60% said their children had lost interest in school.
“Although six in 10 reported that EduTV programmes have been helpful,” the report says, “about 40% reported a range of limitations, including challenges in children’s understanding” of the lessons.
Only 35% of the surveyed households are reported to have access to appropriate learning devices, with most respondents saying their children were relying on smartphones to attend online classes.
In the few months that schools reopened and business activities resumed early this year, several families faced difficulties in paying for school transport and providing money for their children to buy food in school.
The report says that one in four parents had difficulties complying with SOPs, particularly with buying face masks for their children on a daily basis.