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Teens in Isolation: What experts say they need to get through Corona!

Teen in isolation amid outbreak

This article caught me eye as we continue to tutor isolated kids during the coronavirus school shut down in Minnesota:

Particularly, this statement near the end of the article:

Finally, without classmates within arm’s reach to grapple with challenges collaboratively, school performance is also likely to take a hit. And given that spending time with friends is the primary reason teenagers look forward to going to school, academic motivation may significantly decline.

This last bit, highlighted above, aptly summarizes what I think we are seeing in many of our students. Cutoff from regular in-person contact with friends, they are mentally struggling to do relatively simple academic tasks, like daily exercises teachers give to take attendance.

Kids need one another to stay sane and productive. They need their BFF's. Who knew? I am not being sarcastic. This article was a great reminder of this basic understanding, which comes from lived experience and scientific research. And this basic understanding of teen development will likely be re-proven with added force as the fall out from the virus on kids gets tallied by experts as communites move forward from the damage done to recovery.

I won't try to say things better than the article itself, because it does a good job of outlining the needs of teens, how isolation denies their needs and what can be done to lessen the damage to their mental health.

Some of the recommendations could be guessed at. Appropriately, they speak to how to avoid the most immediate threats to teen health in isolation, such as a turn to drugs and alcohol. But some also point to how teens themselves can help pave the way to a better society more prepared to take on this outbreak as well as future crises:

Despite often being geared toward risk-taking, teenagers desire opportunities to contribute to the common good. Teachers can assign students to write about the social issues they are most passionate about and read about inspiring teen-activist groups that have emerged as powerful voices amid COVID-19, fighting against disparate access to child care, food, and technology. New York City’s Teens Take Charge, for example, provides online read, watch, and listen opportunities for youths to stay informed and even get involved during this coronavirus crisis.

So, please check out this article linked above and add it to the pile of good advice already out there if you think it has merit. And please stay safe and healthy. Let's support our front line workers, kids and teachers alike!

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