By, Surabhi Ashok
The coronavirus pandemic has affected so many things in a number of ways, but one of the biggest changes I have seen is with communication. Quarantine has opened up the endless possibilities of the internet, considering how even school is being done online. Programs like Zoom, WebEx, Google Meet, and more are so widely utilized now because of the need to stay connected with others in not only work environments but personal ones too.
Self-isolation can impact teenagers negatively, seeing as they often look forward to their everyday interactions with their peers. That is exactly why many teens, including me, attempt to stay connected to their friends in whatever way possible.
A common way of staying connected is video-chatting on apps like Houseparty or the simple iPhone facetime. Especially over this past year, I have of- ten found myself calling friends and doing homework with them. If we have similar classes, not only do we get to see each other but we also accomplish a bit of studying. If I’m not sure of a subject, video calling makes it easier to ask questions and get help from my peers, despite the sometimes distracting atmosphere.
Studying isn’t the only thing you can get accomplished over facetime. It is also used by teens to just catch up with their friends on new events and developments that occur in their lives. This is a great way to relax: talking about anything and everything. I have also noticed that, specifically when I am feeling stressed, discussing the roots of my stress with my close ones always makes me feel better.
Many teens also text on a day-to-day basis. Texting opens up a space for sharing everyday occurrences like starting a new T.V. show and asking people to watch it. Texting is also perfect for days when I am really busy due to school and extracurriculars as a high school student and don’t have time to devote myself to lengthy conversations.
Furthermore, there has been an increase in the use of zoom meetings for personal events. It’s a good place for friend groups to watch a movie, have conversations, etc. For example, I joined a zoom call with my friends over the summer to listen to an album that just came out and react to the songs together.
With reference to the topic of movies, Netflix Party, or Teleparty, is a great addition to the multi-watching experience. Netflix Party syncs up all the viewers’ screens and has a chat option so people can discuss scenes as they come up. This chrome extension tries to replicate the connectedness of watching television with friends, and although nothing can replace that specific feeling, it does come close.
In general, social media has become a beacon of comfort for many teens during this time as well. It’s a way to relate to other people. Apps such as TikTok bring people together over shared emotions about the Covid-19 pandemic for example.
There are even components of communication in video games for people who are interested. There are chats that allow for friends and even strangers to interact and experience the excitement from the game together. In particular, the game Among Us became a growing sensation in 2020, as more people flocked to the app and cooperated with others as a way to pass time.
Other than the internet, teens also stay connected with others by getting together with the same 3-4 people every once in a while. If a get together occurs every month for instance, it gives a teenager something to look forward to and a constant in their much disrupted lives.
Walks around the neighborhood with a friend or two on sunny days are healthy interactions as well. I have also seen some people go biking around my community. This is a prime example of how teens are staying connected. They wear masks and are still 6 feet apart while riding their bikes, but they’re outside and can clear their heads while relaxing with friends.
The pandemic has fostered feelings of loneliness within teenagers, stemming from the inability to form new connections with peers and adults. That is why these teens look to many forms of communication in order to maintain their existing relationships during this time.