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Social distancing can be particularly challenging for teens as things reopen

Social distancing can be particularly challenging for teens as things reopen
Posted at 4:48 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 13:20:44-04

Continuing social distancing is a challenge for all of us with things starting to reopen, but it's particularly a challenge for teens who haven't had as many of their peers get sick from COVID-19.

“I think that coupled with the pretty typical experience of teens and young adults to feel relatively invincible, their tolerance for risk, their challenges with brain development in terms of recognizing risk and just decision making creates this kind of perfect storm for feeling like this isn't going to affect me, so I can go out and do whatever I want to do,” said Dr. Valerie Crabtree, Chief of Psychosocial Services at St. Jude.

There will also be new pressures for teens with remote learning ending and summer starting. Most teens look to the summer to hang out with friends or work part-time, which may not be options.

Dr. Crabtree says it's important to acknowledge to teens that what they're going through isn't fair or fun.

“It doesn't have to be we're stuck inside, and we can't leave our home, or all bets are off and we'll go party out on the beach or whatever,” said Dr. Crabtree. “There's a middle ground and really helping teens make those decisions and some of it may be setting limits.”

She says if teens are willing to follow the guidelines, they can do some things with peers for a limited time.

One challenge will be if their peers don't have the same limits.

St. Jude has a new COVID-19 resource specifically for teens that can help with understanding the virus better. It can also help with how to cope with being away from friends and having their typical daily life interrupted.

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Data from The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.