Being in coronavirus lockdown is difficult no matter what age you are, but after a week of observing my Grade 5 daughter, I feel it brings particular challenges for preteens. They are entering that stage in which their social circles are all-important, but they are not equipped to keep up with their friends digitally in the way phone-obsessed teenagers can.

She is on the three-term system, and thanks to an online learning programme set up by the dedicated staff at her school, we are ploughing ahead with the curriculum at home. But there is only so much parents can provide. For my daughter, school is everything — the physical space of it, the personal interaction with classmates and teachers — and without it, our comfortable suburban house may as well be a remote and barren island. WhatsApp, extending this analogy, is little more than a sophisticated system of smoke-signalling and messages in bottles.

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