• On social networks, Internet users claim that there is a 23% collapse in children's cognitive development between 2018 and 2021. The masks are questioned.

  • For almost two years, these have been compulsory at school, in nurseries for nursery nurses ... Many people warn about the negative effects on the learning and development of the child.

  • 20 Minutes

    verified this claim.

What if the mask was a barrier to children's learning and development?

This is a theory that has been circulating since the beginning of the obligation to wear a mask for staff in schools and nurseries, or even for schoolchildren themselves when they are older.

Today, Internet users are putting forward figures: “23% collapse in children's cognitive development between 2018 and 2021. Researchers are thinking of masks.


In the comments, opinions differ.

Parents worried on the one hand: “Last year: my children forced to recite or read a text aloud with a mask… Breathless.

"Skeptics of the other:" The mask has many more advantages than disadvantages, and the contaminations of Covid-19 pass through the children.


What is it really and what do we know today?

Explanations by

20 Minutes



Internet users make the link with an article by our colleagues from the

Daily Mail

, which is based on a study carried out by Brown University, and published in August 2021. The researchers studied 1,070 cognitive assessments on 605 children, made before March 2020 , and 154 assessments on 118 children, carried out between March 2020 and June 2021. Their conclusion: “We find that children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced their overall verbal, motor and cognitive performance compared to children born before the pandemic.


The percentage put forward by the Internet user is not directly cited in the study, but by the Daily Mail article on which it is based.

The UK newspaper states: “The results showed that the average composite score of early learning fell 23%, from a high of just under 100 in 2019, to around 80 in 2020, and finally to 77 in 2021. ”Exact figures which come from figure number 2 carried out by the researchers.

The mask in question?

The mask is mentioned as a potential explanation. “Masks worn in public places and at school or daycare can impact a range of early development skills, such as attachment, facial treatment, and socioemotional treatment. However, this article is a pre-publication and therefore has not been peer reviewed. It is therefore not, for the moment, a benchmark study that could be considered reliable.

Beyond the figure put forward by Internet users, the impact of wearing a mask on learning and development has already been pointed out.

Last February, a column produced by a mother and two clinical psychologists was published.

They cite a study by Chinese researchers which takes as an example the effects of wearing a mask during the SARS pandemic in 2003. A document too, still in the pre-publication stage.

One of the professionals behind the forum, Anna Cognet, said: “For babies under 8 months, if an object is hidden, it does not exist.

So behind the mask, the face does not exist.


Several studies are in progress on the subject, but the recent nature of the observed phenomenon does not make it possible to obtain reliable data at this stage.


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