Teen Pandemic Outlook

Natalie Bachman

As a pandemic surges, many can’t help but realize the varying opinions with regards to protective measures. Society has continually noted that teenagers often don’t adhere to protective protocols, but a recent survey sent out to the school indicates that most teens are actually taking these protective measures. Rather, the few students who aren’t have caught the community’s attention.

Health officials and governments alike have continually recommended that individuals avoid large gatherings, wear masks while in public, and maintain a 6-feet social distance. While some may argue that these measures are small prices to pay for the community’s greater good, others cease to adhere to such protocols. 

Amidst this unprecedented battle, society has continually pointed fingers at teenagers, noting their considerably relaxed outlook on the severity of the pandemic and shaming them for ceasing to adhere to protective measures. While these actions were not reflected by Leigh students according to a recent survey, many students didn’t hesitate to point fingers at their peers.

For adolescents, self-isolation has proven to be an uphill battle. It was noted by the University of California, Berkeley, that “with massive changes happening in teens’ brains, their newfound physical, cognitive, and emotional capabilities combine to enable them to make contributions that have real benefits to the people around them.” In other words, social interactions are essential for the cognitive well-being of adolescents. Amidst distance learning and self-isolation, teenagers are being stripped of pivotal years, both inside and outside of the classroom. With this in mind, it can be assumed that this is a driving force behind why teenagers have ceased to take protective measures, such as avoiding large gatherings, wearing a mask, and social distancing.

With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that nearly 70% of students admitted to hanging out with their friends at least once during the pandemic. As noted by one student, “I feel that it’s hard on other people due to them having the urge to hang out with friends.”

However, the survey indicated that nearly ⅔ of teenagers who do hang out with friends always wear masks. In addition, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most adamant), teens on average ranked the importance of wearing a mask at 4.45 and their social distancing proactivity at a 4.06.

Despite the toll the pandemic has taken on students’ mental health, the students surveyed didn’t hesitate to point fingers at their peers. As one student observed, “I see on social media a lot of people gathering in large groups with no masks. I have also seen a lot of teens (that go to Leigh) throw parties with 50-100 people.” 

On social media, teenagers also seemed to present two faces: another student complained that, “I see people talking about how everyone needs to be safe, and then they post pictures of them with other people doing unsafe stuff. It’s really frustrating because people doing stuff like that is a huge reason why the pandemic is so bad.”

While many students expressed annoyance for some of their peers, many students also admitted their reasons for their particular, more relaxed, course of action. An anonymous student expressed that, “I don’t think it’s necessary to wear masks and distance ourselves and destroy any skill of social interactions. At this rate there’s gonna be more suicides from depression and loneliness.”

While these statistics may indicate that teenagers have been, for the most part, taking protective measures, it doesn’t diminish the general annoyance the community has had with teenagers’ lack of proactivity. The drastic change in lifestyle has also presented its challenges, and despite this, the statistics indicate that most teenagers are doing their part to slow the spread.

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