Between the government lockdowns, social distancing protocols, mask orders, and intense travel guidelines, our social health and economic wellbeing are suffering. Children are especially susceptible to the negative effects brought on by this pandemic. Although much of the evidence shows that students are thriving in the homeschool environment due to the decreased amount of stress that comes from a strict school structure, these children are also craving a social life. Isolation is very difficult for young people to cope with, and considering most schools are opting for remote learning, parents will have to help their children through this difficult process.
No matter the stance you take on schools reopening, it is a fact that socialization is a necessity for healthy growth and development in young people. They need to have interactions with others, but it doesn’t just happen in a traditional school setting. Social interaction can also happen in the comfort of your own home or in public hangout spots such as a restaurant or a park. Socializing outside of a normal classroom can often be even more rewarding since it isn’t so restrictive.
Children who didn’t have many opportunities to play before COVID-19 are really struggling now since they may have even fewer chances for interaction now. Mental health can be greatly affected by a lack of socialization, which is why many parents and teachers are concerned. Being stuck at home all day has led to an increased dependency on technology. Although this has been helpful in many ways- allowing children to learn and communicate with friends and loved ones remotely- it is also potentially a major issue.
Too much technology can be a bad thing, and with so much free time, children are scrolling through their social feeds more than ever. An excess of screen time can have an adverse effect on the mental health of young children, making it more difficult for them to socialize in real life and also contributing to a lack of concentration when it comes to their studies.
Keeping children and teens separated from each other robs them of much needed in-person socialization. It isn’t healthy to communicate solely through a screen. The government orders are not to be fought; however, parents can set their own rules within their homes. Facilitating safe ways for your children to continue to interact with their peers will be a key factor in keeping them mentally healthy this school year. Study groups or even just a simple hangout with friends are both great ways to ensure that your child is able to properly socialize as they need to.
“Pandemic pods” are great ways to facilitate group learning, small gatherings, in-person study sessions, and co-learning with other parents who are homeschooling their children. Many parents are opting for these pods and they establish a great support system for those who feel they are lacking one. Parents should continue to explore options for increasing their student’s social interaction opportunities by safely transitioning their children back into a social settings and taking advantage of safe community gatherings or other options like these “pandemic pods”.