SINGAPORE – Wearing a mask daily has become routine during the Covid-19 outbreak, and it is a practice expected to continue under the “new normal”.

But parents and experts have raised concerns over the long-term effects of mask wearing for children.

A 2016 study by Frontiers in Psychology – a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal – showed that facial expressions and visual cues are of great importance in that they allow children to share and identify emotions during social interactions.

Ms Aarti Mundae, director of Incontact Counselling and Training, said that wearing a mask could lead to developmental delays in communication matters just as children are learning to express themselves.

Said Ms Mundae: “Communication is deeply influenced by visual cues. It is only 38 per cent affected by vocal cues and surprisingly, seven per cent by verbal. This makes the need to express and see facial cues significant.”

Verbal cues refer to words while vocal cues encompass tone of voice, volume and pitch.

“It could also cause delays in their development of social and emotional intelligence as they are unable to pick up the finer nuances that are critical to their comprehension of feelings,” she added.

But pre-schools are finding ways to work around this.

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