The relationship between online courses and mental health among Chinese children

Shuang Zhou, Chu Yao Jin, Jing Guo, Zheng Liu, Qiang Feng, Jia Wang, Xiang Rong Xu, Shi Wang, Zhong Shang Wan, Carsten Obel, Hui Liu, Hai Jun Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Previous studies on the association of online courses and mental health were mainly conducted in universities, and no study investigated the relationship between characteristics of online courses and children’s mental health in primary and secondary school. This study aimed to explore the association of online courses and children’s mental health in primary and secondary school. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted through an online survey among 540 primary and secondary school students and their parents in the eastern, central and western region of China from April to May in 2020. Children’s mental health was assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Borderline mental health problems (SDQ total difficulties score ≥ 16) and mental health problems (SDQ total difficulties score ≥ 20) were defined according to Goodman’s standard. Multivariable linear and logistic regression models were used to examine the association between online courses and children’s mental health. Results: Compared with those who did not have problems of online courses, children having the difficulty in understanding the content of online courses had a higher SDQ total difficulties score [β = 1.80, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89, 2.71] and a higher risk of borderline mental health problems [odds ratio (OR) = 1.93, 95%CI: 1.07, 3.49], while device or internet connection problems were not significantly associated with children’s mental health. Compared with children who had live courses, those having video-recorded courses had a higher SDQ total difficulties score (β = 0.90, 95%CI: 0.01, 1.80). Children who spent more than 4 h on online courses had a higher SDQ total difficulties score than those of less than or equal to 4 h (β = 0.95, 95%CI: 0.09, 1.81). Conclusion: We found that online courses with inappropriate characteristics were associated with children’s mental health. The findings called for the efforts to optimize the online courses and improve children’s mental health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number328
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Mental health
  • Online course

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