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Covid-19: Does Your Kid Really Need a Mask?

Parenting is full of obstacles that can be hard to navigate—even without a toddler yelling at your face. There’s no instruction manual, which means discerning fact from fiction and reasonable from ridiculous can be maddening. That’s where Parentalogic comes in, a digital series brought to you by NOVA and PBS Digital Studios. Subscribe to the YouTube channel to receive alerts when new episodes launch.

Premiered: Runtime: 10:47Topic: Body + BrainBody & BrainNova
Premiered on PBS

In this episode of Parentalogic, hosts pediatrician Alok Patel and comedian and mother Bethany Van Delft, with guest star Joe Hanson from PBS Digital Studios’ “It’s OK to be Smart,” unveil the importance of COVID-19 masks—and offer tips on how to best assist your child in the fight against viral spread and infection. As far as doctors and scientists know, Alok explains, the coronavirus primarily spreads via droplets in a similar way to other respiratory viruses, like the common cold and flu. The point of mask-wearing is to create a filter so these droplets, which can spread when you or your child cough, sneeze, talk, yell, or yodel, don’t travel that far away from you, potentially infecting somebody else. In that way, masks are a lot like bicycle helmets or seat belts: All are physical barriers protecting your head or body from harm, and, in the case of masks, also protecting others.

We know masks can save lives, but are they totally safe to wear 100% of the time? Science superstar Joe Hanson helps Alok and Bethany debunk some mask myths, like that wearing one can decrease your oxygen levels, that humidity in the mask can cause pneumonia, or that people who are not experiencing symptoms should be exempt from wearing masks. Remember, scientific studies have shown that even if you or your child feel fine, you could be asymptomatic (infected but never develop symptoms) or presymptomatic (infected but not yet experiencing symptoms) and still spread the virus.

Struggling with getting your little one to put on and avoid touching their face covering? Find inspiring role models like the stars of “Hello, Ninja” and make it fashion, Bethany suggests.

Of course, masks alone aren’t enough to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and not all children can or should be wearing them. Physical distancing, aka keeping a distance of at least 6 feet away from others, is also important. And if your child struggles with wearing a mask or can’t do so because of sensory differences or their age—masks can pose a suffocation or choking hazard to children under 2—that’s OK! You just might have to mitigate risk in another way.

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National Corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.

Major funding for Parentalogic is provided by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and PBS.