by Connor Swank, 04/08/2020, Traverse City, MI
Middle School 6-8 Category
Originating in China, Covid-19 has spread fast. I started this on March 27, when the death toll was 25,000 people; today, April 8, the total is 83, 664 (worldometer.info/coranovirus). Teenage brains work differently, as they are still developing. They will process the pandemic in different ways, and we need to know the potential impact. Many forces affect the teenage brain. Recently, the pandemic is affecting the teen’s brain health and social interactions. There are, however, strategies to reduce these negative effects.
Some of the health effects include, but are not limited to, worsening chronic health problems, depression, anger problems and anxiety. Stress may increase the danger of health problems, such as, “heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety” (webmd.com). Stress can also be a factor in the unhealthy use of drugs. Depression can cause decreased motivation, too much sleep and other physical and mental ailments. THe stress of the Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the teen brain in a severe way. Your mental health baseline will determine how hard the pandemic affects you.
Given the Covid-19 virus limits our interpersonal contact, all of our interactions happen through technology. FaceTime, Skype, Discord, Zoom and other platforms like these are being used to their fullest advantage. Platforms like these allow you to communicate with someone while you can see them. Though this is useful to stay in contact with people, it does not take the place of seeing someone in person. In addition, spending too much time with people you are quarantined with may increase frustration with the personality differences and differing ideas. In conclusion, since your “outside world” contact is limited, spending too much time with the people you are stuck with may create a hostile environment as your minor differences amplify.
Given how this situation negatively affects teenage brains, there are strategies to reduce the negative effects. First off, parents need to reassure their kids. Families and people who are quarantined together need to have conversations about the virus and learn how it will affect them. Teens especially need to learn how the virus works, in order to prevent getting/spreading it. Next, you need to keep busy. Schedules help teens stay on task so they have something to do. Finally, teens should stay connected to friends and try to have fun in this new reality.
In summary, the teenage brain is affected in many ways by the stress of quarantine. First of all, chronic health problems may be increased by stress. New problems, such as depression, anger and anxiety may form. Social interactions are also going to be affected by quarantine. Since you are limited in the people you can see, the people you are stuck with might get on your nerves. You can reduce stress by one, staying connected with friends through technology. Two, having conversations about the virus and the effects. Last, but not least, three, social distancing yourself so as to not get the virus. Fellow teenagers, we will make through if we follow these guidelines.