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The Cut
43 mins | May 13, 2020

Children of quarantine

What does a year of isolation and anxiety do to a developing brain? Undoubtedly, many kids growing up today will look back to 2020 and remember it as the "year of no school, no parties, no playdates, no kissing." But in this remarkable investigation for The Cut, Lisa Miller looks deeper into what the long-term effects of a year like this could have in their mental and physical health — what existing data already suggests is worrying. "What Fisher worries about now is how many young children — what portion of America’s 20 million kids under 5 — are serving into a void. He starts with the premise that parents love their kids and want to care for them, that even overwhelmed humans know in their cells how to nurture. But after 37 weeks of pandemic, too many American parents are too tapped out. Decades of research has definitively shown that the presence of a responsive caregiver, especially during early childhood, when the brain is extremely plastic, is the crucial ingredient in healthy development. This stable adult attention is exponentially more meaningful when children are growing up in persistent adversity: environments of neglect, abuse, deprivation, or poverty that medical and psychological professionals call 'toxic stress.'"

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