New research published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Reports suggests that implementing online classes during COVID-19–related school closures in Japan may have helped protect adolescents' mental health.
For the study, researchers conducted anonymous surveys from October 1 to November 7, 2020 in 21 junior and senior high schools in the Saitama prefecture of Japan. A total of 5,000 students agreed to participate, and implementation of online classes was reported by 78.2% of classroom teachers.
Implementation of online classes was associated with lower rates of emotional symptoms and smartphone addiction, but not related to psychotic experience (hearing voices that other people cannot hear).
"Policymakers and school administrators could consider implementing online classes during national school closures owing to their potential protective effect on mental health," said senior author Kiyoto Kasai, MD, Ph.D., of the University of Tokyo. "Further research is needed to investigate whether the protective effect depends on the pandemic phase or level of school closure, and to identify the mediators in this relationship."