Children of parents who work weekends and night shifts are more likely to have poorer language and maths skills, a study has found. And, by the time they reach their teen years, they are more likely to be depressed and to have turned to drink and drugs, it says. The study – carried out by the WZB Berlin Social Research Centre – said that children are becoming the victims of the ‘open all hours economy’ and are becoming more susceptible to developmental and behavioural problems.
The Telegraph reports that the review, led by senior researcher Jainghong Li, studied 30 years of research comparing parents work routine with that of their children’s development.
It found that of 23 reviewed studies, 21 revealed that night shifts and weekend shifts damaged children’s development.
The study authors concluded that this could be in part attributed to parents’ own depressive symptoms, poorer quality parenting, reduced child-parent interaction and closeness, and a less supportive home environment.
They added: ‘Problems linked with unsociable work hours were more pronounced in disadvantaged families, such as low income or single-parent families, and when parents worked such hours on a full time basis.
‘Findings from the review highlight the need for financial, workplace, childcare and other community supports for parents, especially in vulnerable families.
‘The 24/7 economy may be adding to the challenges faced by parents in managing their work and parenting commitments, when jobs require them to work unsociable hours.’
Sue Palmer, an expert in childhood development, told the paper that the results were not at all surprising.
She added: ‘There are an awful lot of problems with society that are now coming home to roost.’
‘Parents are struggling to find their way… they think children want toys but actually what they need is time and love and someone to talk to’