Research Spotlight: How COVID Isolation Is Affecting Teenagers
Teens in COVID Isolation
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of us in different ways. For teenagers, COVID-19 has been especially disruptive. Young men and women in this critical developmental stage have socially disengaged, been removed from classrooms and found themselves stuck at home with overworked parents and restless siblings. If you think back to your own teen years, it’s not difficult to imagine the negative ways in which COVID isolation is affecting teenagers.
Teenagers and Mental Health
According to one New York Times article, remote learning, pandemic uncertainty and lockdowns have increased the rates of anxiety and depression among adolescents. Teens whose days were once packed with school, homework, hobbies and extracurriculars now find themselves stuck at home with little to do.
“I felt like I was trapped,” said Aya, one 14-year-old interviewee. “When you’re with friends, you’re completely distracted and you don’t think about the bad stuff going on. During the beginning of quarantine, I was so alone. All the sad things I used to brush off… I realized I couldn’t brush them off anymore.”
Research cited by the Times indicates that teenagers depend on their friendships to maintain their self-worth, as well as to hold anxiety and depression at bay. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has released warning signs of the parents of teens. They state that risk-taking behaviors, sudden weight loss, drastic mood swings and substance abuse can all be signs that the pandemic is severely affecting your child.
Concerns for At-Risk Teens During the Pandemic
Under normal circumstances, it can be challenging to keep up with what your teenager is doing. In the pandemic, it may feel nearly impossible. Normally, the responsibility of monitoring your teen is split between yourself, your spouse, teachers, classmates and school counselors. Today, it is all on you. While your child is at home 24/7, he may lock himself in his room – if you’re juggling assignments or attempting to watch your other kids, it’s easy for him to slip through the cracks. When work or other responsibilities call, you must attend to that. Your teen then has free rein.
Young people who are diagnosed with mental health or substance use disorders face incredible obstacles due to the pandemic. Those who struggle with self-harm and suicidal thoughts require significant supervision. Without the monitoring and support of educators or mental health professionals, it can be difficult to protect teenagers from hurting themselves.
Additionally, those who use drugs and alcohol should also not be left unattended during quarantine. The increased privacy of extended alone time can enable them to escalate their substance use right in the home.
CDC Recommendations for Teenagers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released an article aimed at young adults. In this post, they empathize with the frustrations of teens, and answer questions like “Why can’t I hang out with my friends?” and “Should I be worried about COVID-19?” This page can be a useful asset in trying to support your teenager during this difficult time.
Here are a few recommendations the CDC has provided for young people struggling during COVID-19.
Socialize Creatively. There are plenty of ways to stay in touch with friends, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Get your friends to play Among Us or other multiplayer games – MMORPGs have skyrocketed in popularity over the past year. This way, you don’t just have to look at each other on Zoom; you can play and work towards a goal while catching up.
Find Ways to Relax by Yourself. We all have felt a lot more stress over the past year. Remote learning, lockdown and other forces have brought us inside with our families. Sometimes, that can feel claustrophobic. Carve out some time to yourself by taking a walk or doing a solo activity outside. Doing something you enjoy can help to break the monotony and boost your mood.
Keep to a Schedule. It’s hard to feel good when you don’t take care of yourself. Believe it or not, a routine can help you to stay on track more than almost anything else. Be sure that you’re eating and sleeping at regular intervals to keep your health in check.
Be Open About Your Feelings. Teen boys have a difficult time expressing themselves. The CDC asks that you remember that it’s normal to be frustrated, angry, tired, lonely or sad during all of this. When your emotions are running high, speak with a friend or family member for some clarity – don’t bottle things up inside. You are not alone.
Do Your Part. We can all help to stop the spread of COVID-19. Be sure that you’re not participating in parties, mass gatherings or other potentially infectious activities. By wearing a mask and social distancing, you can feel confident that you (and your loved ones) are safe.
Support for Teenage Boys During COVID-19
At ARCH Academy, we specialize in helping young men to reach their full potential. Our programming is rooted in academics and evidence-based practices. We are proud to guide classes of teenagers to productivity, happiness and sobriety.
To learn more about what we do here at ARCH Academy, contact our admissions team. They’ll be happy to explain our offerings and answer your questions.