Does mask-wearing hurt children's development?


Fact Box

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that children under five should not be required to wear a mask, 6 to 11-year-olds should wear masks after weighing certain risk factors, and children over 12 should treat mask regulations as equivalent to adults.
  • During the 1918 flu pandemic, citizens were encouraged to wear masks out of a sense of patriotism to protect troops, while some cities even mandated their use. Even though compliance was high, people 'complained that the masks were uncomfortable, ineffective or bad for business.' Some San Francisco citizens even formed an 'Anti-Mask League.'
  • The CDC recommends that masks 'have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric' and 'a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.' 
  • A 2021 Gallup poll revealed that 48% of parents with K-12 students believe that all children should wear masks in school, regardless of their vaccination status, while 41% said children should be maskless.

Bre (No)

The recent worldwide pandemic has undoubtedly had a profound impact on everyday life. Masks are among the most effective measures in significantly slowing the spread of the virus and its variants, thus benefiting the greater good when worn by all. This includes children who are known to transmit COVID-19.

Masks have been deemed safe for children by researchers, and even when worn for prolonged periods, are highly unlikely to have any negative effect. Their use is not unlike sunglasses, which have never been a cause for concern around kids. While it may be an adjustment for some cultures, there are many tools and strategies to help children accept masks and understand their importance. Meanwhile, in societies where masks have long been worn, children show no developmental delays.

Children with visual impairments develop speech and language skills at the same rate as their peers. In fact, seeing less can actually lead to improved observation in other, more resourceful ways. Learning and communication are complex and by no means rely solely on mouth visibility. Studies show kids are not only unhindered by masks in identifying facial expressions, but they prefer studying the eye area regardless.

There’s frankly no evidence to support concerns over potentially harmful effects on kids due to masks, psychologically, physically, or otherwise. Experts agree that the resilience and adaptability of children are certainly able to withstand embracing mask-wearing practices and are confident no long-term detriment or damage will result. Moreover, the proven disease prevention measure is beyond warranted in the name of public safety.

Morgan (Yes)

Forcing children to wear masks is a form of child abuse. Numerous scientific studies demonstrate the negative physical and psychological impacts of mask-wearing on adults and children. Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome (MIES) has emerged since the implementation of mask mandates, resulting in various health conditions such as fatigue, headache, irritability, and brain fog, most notably in adolescents and children. Further, it is completely unreasonable to have kids wear masks around each other, considering people aged 0-19 have a 99.99% COVID-19 survival rate, according to the CDC

In addition to the effects of MIES, there is growing concern amongst dentists about the increase in cases of gum disease since the dawn of mask mandates. Also, developing immune and respiratory systems are in danger as pathogenic bacteria have been found to cling to masks, increasing the risk of serious lung diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, and tuberculosis. 

Aside from the damage that masks do to the body, there are growing concerns amongst mental health care professionals about the sociological impacts of mask-wearing. Historically, masks were used to punish slaves as a way to mar one’s identity by obscuring the face. This dehumanizing effect is particularly tragic for young people who are only beginning to learn how to socialize. Masks conceal a vital aspect of human communication and connection--seeing facial expressions and moving lips.

Complicating matters for children is the heavy politicization associated with mask-wearing. When wanting to simply breathe freely is taken as a political stance, kids can feel overwhelmed.

Despite claims about the adaptability of children during the pandemic, mask-wearing is causing undeniable damage to young minds and bodies and should be ended. 

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