07 Oct How Teens Can Safely Hang Out with Friends
When it comes to development, both socially and emotionally, our teenage years are some of the most important. It’s a complicated time when we learn how to interact with our peers, deal with adversity, and ultimately, discover who we are. And much of that development occurs in the simple act of hanging out with friends.
Our closest friends provide a network of support, a path to new ideas, and a reflection of our burgeoning identities. But what happens to teens’ development when it’s wholly interrupted by an unprecedented global pandemic? When the world’s scientific experts agree that we need to stay home, distance ourselves from others, and limit social interactions – how can today’s teens be expected to develop these very necessary relationships, at a very influential time in their lives, when these experiences put their health at risk?
The good news is, there are still plenty of safe and socially distanced activities for teens, that will help them feel what it’s like to be a normal adolescent, in a very abnormal time.
Most of today’s teens had trouble spending enough time outdoors even before the pandemic. With smartphones and other devices, kids began spending more and more of their time stuck inside. COVID actually gives teens a great reason to spend more of their lives outside. Make sure your teen knows to keep a safe distance away from their friends, keep their hands clean and to wear a mask, but if they do those things – there’s nothing wrong with them hanging out with friends in the great outdoors. Not only that, but that extra vitamin D their bodies will produce boosts their immune systems!
Although too much screen time, especially during time of social distancing, should be limited, it’s important to note that quality screen time does exist. Adolescents need a good amount of regular social interaction, so encourage yours to video chat with their friends. It might not be as engrossing as in-person meetups, but it beats the isolation that many teens are now facing.
Another great activity for teens that gets them to hang out with their friends, is to encourage movie nights. Depending on where you live, many drive-ins have reopened, where teens can watch movies together, while socially distancing in different cars, and through a call or text, experience the movie with their friends. If a local drive-in isn’t available, Netflix offers their ‘Party’ feature, which allows users to have a virtual movie night.
If your teen and their friends are avid readers, a virtual book club may be just the thing for them. They can choose books that they’ll all like, and with the prospect of weekly Zoom meetups to discuss what they’ve read the previous week – they’ll be encouraged to both read more, and interact with their friends.
Explore a New Sport
Team or individual sports are wonderful outdoor activities for teens, that also help them interact with each other. And sports like baseball, softball, golf or tennis are perfect ways for them to hang out, stay entertained, and keep their social connections with each other. And if they aren’t necessarily that athletic, encourage them to try a new sport – they might discover a hidden inner athlete they never knew they had.
At Tilly’s Life Center, we know how important the development of today’s teens is. That’s why we offer virtual social and emotional learning workshops to teens everywhere, that teach adolescents the skills they need to overcome obstacles, manage stress and build the confidence they need to unlock their potential. To learn more, visit: https://tillyslifecenter.org/