The Pet Effect: a Blessing or Bane for Students

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Ever since the pandemic, many students had to study from home. Their daily routine was disrupted. They are kept indoors most of the time in an attempt to safeguard them from the virus. They can no longer play with their classmates in school or safely hang out with friends. All of their learning happens online inside their own bedroom or a dedicated study area in the house.

Today, some parents focus on choosing the best schools in the area and even grab the chance to enrol their kids in an excellent American school. Kids often want to study in a school where their friends are studying to avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation on a big campus. However, now that the new normal entails virtual learning, students and parents alike might face unprecedented challenges.

Due to physical distancing and isolation, many students are having difficulties adapting. Students are used to studying in school, having classmates around while they teach talks in front of them. They miss the kind of interaction that is undeniably deeper and a lot more personal than online learning has to offer.

On a good note, some students now have more time to spend with their family and pets. According to reports, about 68% of households in the U.S. have a pet. But are pets a blessing to students during the pandemic or a nuisance to kids trying to get used to learning from home?

Can Pets Be a Distraction to Students?

Pets naturally need their owner’s attention, love, and affection. Most pets in U.S. households are cats and dogs. They make great companions but taking care of one comes with great responsibilities.

A pet needs to be trained properly. If a student’s pet can understand simple commands, it can be easier to take care of them and ensure they behave well most of the time. This can give students enough time to focus on their learning.

But if a pet is not yet house-trained, always makes a mess, and is always disrupting a student while studying, they can add to their stress levels. Students should learn how to balance their time well by having enough time dedicated to learning, playing, and taking care of their pets.

Younger kids might find pets as a distraction but not in a way how adults see them. Since kids love to play with their pets, they might opt to play with their dog or cat instead of focus on their lessons. If parents are not careful in guiding kids, their children can end up with no more energy to study at home or even engage with their classmates and teachers during an online class.

How Pets Can Be a Blessing to Students

For students, a pet is more than just a cute and cuddly buddy they can play with after class. Studies show that people suffering from signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety, and even depression can benefit from having a pet or two. Their strong bond with their humans is enough to boost their mood and help them stay healthy.

There is what we call the pet effect. According to research, pet ownership can improve one’s mental health. Pets, especially dogs, require enough exercise and stimulation, which means students don’t have a choice but to play with their pets, take them out for a walk and stay active to keep up with their pets’ needs.

Students studying online can feel lonely since they no longer have classmates they can interact with in real life. Video calls and meetings can never replace real interactions. If students have a pet, they can turn to their pooch whenever they feel bored, lonely, or even stressed out from all of their school work.

Pets also provide their humans with a sense of security and belongingness. As social creatures and with love and belongingness being a part of our basic needs, pets can help fill the gap students feel for not having friends and other loved ones’ support around during the pandemic. Students also get to offer their love and care, making them feel better despite the lockdown.

Pets can also serve as an inspiration to students learning at home. Their pets can help nurture learning, especially when it comes to caring for animals. This is one reason why classroom pets are a popular trend, especially in preschool up until the 8th grade.

Pets can help students maintain and improve their study routine. Before, students knew what to expect each day, which involved waking up early to prepare to go to school, study, go home, and do their homework. Now that students spend most days at home and don’t get enough exercise, pets can help them establish a new routine where students can take short breaks to play with their pets, stay active and focus better on their studies after short but meaningful breaks.

Sometimes, pets can be a distraction. But a pet can support a student’s emotional needs, improve their mental health, and even boost their studying routine. In other words, the benefits pets can offer to students outweigh the cons.

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