The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us that humans are resilient. Like many adults, though, teenagers have never experienced the kind of uncertainty they are feeling now.
In having to deal with the pandemic, teens have lost key moments in their lives. Many have missed important school-related events, including sports, dances and graduations. They have been separated from friends for a very long time on top of having to wear masks and socially distance.
Over the ten-plus years as a yoga teacher to teens, I have had the opportunity to teach face-to-face yoga in schools, studios and fitness centers. I remember well the last studio class in March of 2020 where I was together with the students. We were talking about the virus and not knowing when we would see each other next. It was very unnerving for all of us.
After weeks of not having classes, we moved to virtual yoga and were pleased to have students from other communities join in. I had more opportunities to listen to teens share their feelings about living in a pandemic. Needless to say, it has been difficult for these kids. Yet, I’ve had my eyes opened as they also shared where they saw the silver linings. Payton Key, a middle school student from Florida said, "I like online school because I can sleep later and mornings are less stressful."
A recent survey of over 1,500 teens collected between May and June of 2020 by the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution, found that 84% of teens still attending school reported they were getting seven or more hours of sleep during the pandemic. In 2018, only 55% of teenagers reported sleeping seven or more hours. The study's findings suggest that more sleep was a significant reason for an improvement in mood and 68% said they felt closer to their families.
In support of the study, it found that teens are feeling closer to their families, Melani, a 14-year-old from Massachusetts, echoed that sentiment saying, "During the pandemic, we have played more games and have laughed a lot more."
Yet, pandemic-related school closures and social distancing has caused a dramatic increase in social media usage among teens. That rise in time on social media may have been over 60% according to a report from Children's Hospital of Chicago. Further, a study showed that household rules with phones for teens during these times became even more relaxed. The hospital surveyed 3,000 parents and it showed parents knew their teens were using their phones more, but felt they needed the time to be socially connected to their peers. When asked a few months later, most parents went back to setting limits again with three of four parents saying they had successfully reinforced phone and social media restrictions.
Ryan, a 13-year-old from Wisconsin shared, "I cannot wait for when the pandemic ends and I can see my friends in person from less than six feet away."
We could not agree with you more, Ryan.
Written by ChildLight Trainer, Ann Biese
Ann is offering a virtual 4-week Mindfulness Series for Teens April 11-May 2nd, 2021. Click here to learn more.
Join Ann for the next virtual Yoga & Mindfulness for Tweens & Teens Teacher Training and learn how to share the gifts of yoga, mindfulness and wellness with young people.