COVID-19 Impact on Adolescents: The Development of Autonomy Becoming Critical

An infographic on Physical Activity, Screen Time and Sleep in Montreal Secondary School Students was published in April 2021 to illustrate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, nine months after its beginning, on the 24-hour movement behaviours of Montreal adolescents. It reveals that, as of December 2020 and January 2021, most of the 2948 surveyed adolescents do not meet the national recommendations for physical activity (82%), recreational screen time (72%) and sleep duration (81%). Moreover, only 1% of the participants met the three recommendations on a daily basis, whereas 50% of them do not meet any of the three recommendations. It indicates that a large proportion of Montreal adolescents were unable to adapt their daily routine in order to meet the 24-hour movement guidelines while having to compose with the social restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on these results, immediate solutions are needed to improve adolescents’ lifestyle habits despite the restrictions in place. The sustained reduction observed in the healthy movement behaviours of adolescents are certainly critical and might lead to important adverse impacts on their global development. It also suggests that adolescents have little autonomy in regard to their physical activity, recreational screen time and sleep habits. Therefore, substantial effort is required to promote healthy movement behaviours and to provide resources to support the adolescents, their parents, the secondary schools’ stakeholders as well as the community. Measures aiming to increase the autonomy of all adolescents concerning the adoption of a healthy and physically active lifestyle, such as a multi-component approach in school, involving school staff, family and community, should be magnified, and new measures should be developed to counteract the actual situation.

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