Pets Help Children Reduce Their Stress and Stay Active During COVID-19 Pandemic, Survey Finds
A recent survey of parents by Mars Petcare found that most parents believe their pets have helped their children with virtual learning, keeping to a daily routine, and more during the COVID pandemic
Children worldwide swapped the classroom for the living room in 2020, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused many schools to switch to virtual learning last year. As part of this transition, some children swapped their human classmates for pet study buddies.
A recent survey conducted by Mars Petcare explores how having an animal at home affected some of the over 1 billion students that experienced a disruption in in-person schooling because of the pandemic. For the survey, 2,000 parents across the U.K. and U.S. that have children aged 5-17 and at least one cat or dog answered an online assessment about how their kids have interacted with their pets throughout the pandemic.
The results reveal that parents see pets as beneficial companions for their children, especially during times of stress. Of the 2,000 parents surveyed, 83% percent said their pets help reduce their children's anxiety, especially during virtual learning. Close to 85% of parents surveyed said having a dog or cat in the house has made virtual learning more enjoyable for their children overall.
The surveyed parents also found plenty of other reasons to praise their pets, with a majority claiming that pets have helped boost their child's self-confidence, keep their kid to a daily routine, offer more opportunities for physical activity and improve the household's overall mood during the pandemic.
The survey also found that parents believe their pets have benefited from having more time with the family. Of the parents polled, 87% think the extra time their pet has had with their children has been enjoyable for the animal, and 77% believe the extra time has made their pet calmer.
RELATED VIDEO: Little Kid Is Amused by Goats
Understandably, the survey also found that many parents are eager to have pet programs in the classroom after seeing how their furry friends have helped with virtual learning. Of those surveyed, 74% of parents said they want schools to invest most in pet interaction programs.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.