Parents Say Pets Have Helped Their Kids Through the Pandemic by Reducing Stress & Promoting Activity

A recent survey of parents by Mars Petcare revealed that most parents think their pets have helped their children with virtual learning, keeping to a daily routine, and much more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last year, many children found themselves studying in a living room instead of a classroom and swapped human study buddies for furry ones. A new study conducted in the US and UK wanted to better understand how the in-person learning disruptions of the pandemic affected over 1 billion children. The main takeaway? Pets are a net good.

A New Survey Asked Parents with Children Aged 5-17 What Role Their Pets Have Had Throughout the Pandemic on Their Kids.

For the survey, 2,000 parents across the UK and US that have children aged 5-17 and at least one cat or dog answered an online survey 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 questioned, 83% percent said their pets help reduce their children’s anxiety, especially during virtual learning. Close to 85% of parents surveyed claimed 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 pups and kitties, with a majority claiming that pets have helped boost their child’s self-confidence, keep their kid on a daily routine, offer more motivation for physical activity, and improve the household’s overall mood throughout the pandemic.

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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. So, the pandemic has been excellent for pets!

Unsurprisingly, the survey found that many parents are keen to have pet programs in the schools after seeing how their furry pals have helped with virtual learning. Of those surveyed, a whopping 74% of parents said they want schools to invest in pet interaction programs. Puppies and kittens would make any classroom feel warmer, right?

The American Humane, The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), and The Pet Care Trust announced in 2019 the online publication of the Pets in the Classroom Study, which assessed the social, behavioral, and academic effects of the presence of small, resident classroom animals for 591 third and fourth-grade students across the United States over the 2016-2017 school year. The study’s findings suggest that classroom pets may help improve academic performance and social skills in children.

“The utilization of classroom pets in third and fourth grade U.S. classrooms appears to hold significant benefits for children’s social, behavioral, and academic development,” said Amy McCullough, PhD, Principal Investigator and Senior Research Advisor, American Humane.

“Findings show that the presence of pets in the classroom may increase social skills and competence for children in the third and fourth grades and, additionally, be effective in decreasing select problem behaviors in the classroom,” she added.

“Across the school year, teachers with classroom pets, which ranged from guinea pigs to small reptiles, saw significantly greater increases in overall social skills, including every subscale of the social skills measure (communication, cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, engagement, and self-control); social competence; and academic reading competence,” the study found.

Parents Say Pets Have Helped Their Kids Throughout Pandemic by Reducing Stress & Promoting Activity, New Survey Finds

“In addition, teachers reported significantly greater decreases in internalizing behaviors (e.g., withdrawal) and hyperactivity/inattention among their students, as compared to teachers in the control condition, without classroom pets.”

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As more and more evidence suggests that furry friends are great for young learners, we hope that even more schools and homes consider adding a pet. Yes, parents and children want Fido on faculty!

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