I want to start off by saying I know I will probably get pushback on this and I am okay with that. This is coming from a mom concerned about the social aspect that is missing during Covid19 that kids need. I get all of the statistics and negative opinions about screen time. I even agree but this is not the time for that. Let go of those worries because their mental health is more of a priority right now. This post can even be true for all kids (obviously not toddlers). So parents, please give your kids screen time during social isolation.

social isolation in teens
Social isolation in teens

Teenagers are used to socialization through school, sports, friendships or being able to play with neighborhood kids. School is the most important social arena for them. It was taken away from them without hardly any notice.

Teens who are socially isolated are at high risk of developing health problems as an adult. Studies also show that social isolation and a lack of friendships impact the brain from developing.

There was a NOVA study done amongst 4,227 young adults between the ages of 13-19 years old which examined depression and other mental health problems within the group. They compared this adolescence based on who had close friends and who did not have friends they could connect with. They found that the young adults who did not have friends who they talk to daily had remarkably higher symptoms of depression than those who had close friends. More than 1 out of 3 girls without interaction with friends had symptoms leading to depression.

These studies go on and on.

Social health is very important and we don’t need to dismiss that from them just because kids are “resilient”. Depression in teenagers is real and has longterm effects on their life. They don’t fully understand what “social distancing” or “temporary” means. To them, it is keeping them from seeing their friends and removing very essential freedom from their life almost instantly. Allowing them to have screen time keeps them connected with their friends and adds normalcy to what is happening in the real world.

Priorities come first for sure. You can still have rules for your teens. Communicate with them when they are allowed to have screen time or play video games. They need to do their schoolwork, chores, have outside time or indoor creativity time as well.

How can my child be affected?

The chart shows two different scenarios. The left side is a list of how social isolation can affect teens and the right side is a list of how too much screen time can impact them negatively.

  • Effects Of Social Isolation
  • Depression
  • Rebellion
  • Anger
  • Weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Going “stir crazy”
  • Loneliness
  • Impact on brain development
  • Negative Impacts Too Much Screentime
  • Obesity
  • Insomnia
  • Moodswings
  • Problems at school
  • Behavior Issues
  • Impact on brain development

The lists are very similar. At a time like this, we have to choose our battles and find a good balance. If facetiming a friend so they can watch a Netflix series together or playing online video games with their friends will help them, I personally say “go for it”! As long as they completed all of the mandatory tasks for the day.

Make a weekly schedule and post it in a place they can see it. Add in some family time each day so you can still stay connected. Here is an example of our weekly schedule. I do not add in specific times where they can have screentime. After school work is completed, they can incorporate it in between the other activities.

So parents, please give your kids screen time during this time of social isolation because of Covid19. It will do more good than harm.

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3 Comments

  1. I don’t have a teen yet but my goodness if i was a teen during these times, some screen would be a lovely bit of escape for me! I love this.

  2. Good call with this and love all of the studies you reference to back up this recommendation.

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