The Pandemic Produced Some Positive Effects for Teenage Girls, Study Finds

A new study led by Jennifer Silk, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, found that the early days of the pandemic had some beneficial effects on teenage girls.

Dr. Silk and her research team conducted a daily diary study with teen girls across 10 days in March and April 2020, finding that girls reported higher levels of anxiety and depression while in lockdown, especially on days they struggled with online learning. Quality time with family, however, was linked to better mental-health days, and girls were more likely to spend time doing healthy and creative activities that school and extracurriculars would normally leave no time for.

“Three quarters of the girls were engaging in creative hobbies, and about two thirds were reading and writing for fun, which we never see,” Dr. Silk said. “They were getting nine hours of sleep — unheard of.”

The results may not apply to everyone. Girls in the study tended to be middle or upper class, so other teens who had to support their family or help with childcare may not have seen the same benefits. Dr. Silk also emphasized one negative side-effect of the pandemic shutdowns: Girls consistently reported worse mental health on days when they struggled with remote learning.

Professor Silk joined the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. She holds a Ph.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia.

The full study, “Storm Clouds and Silver Linings: Day-to-Day Life in COVID-19 Lockdown and Emotional Health in Adolescent Girls,” was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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