“This is an unprecedented era.” “The world is going through trying times.” These cliches are starting to try people’s patience. More than saying overused, shallow phrases attempting to bring comfort, students transitioning into in-person schools need genuine, heartfelt care.
After a year of remote desolation, Gen Z has never been more isolated. The American Psychological Association reports that “81% of teens have experienced more intense stress during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The deficit of interactions, resulting social isolation, along with a lack of support, have brought great detriment. And now, as students have begun a fully in person education once again, anxiety may be increasing, prompting the world to ask, “what can we do?”
Every generation has their own unique problems. For today’s current teens, the pandemic has brought an overwhelming sense of tiredness. Physically, spiritually, and particularly emotionally, these lacking capacities manifest themselves in mental health problems. What’s different about the current situation is a lack of past experience, especially for parents. Kids are used to having adults who’ve experienced similar struggles; who’ve navigated these waters before. But now, the entire world is going through uncharted territory. Young and old alike lack experience.
Nevertheless, there is a light at the end of a tunnel. There are simple, practical steps students can take to maneuver in person school. From the perspective of both teacher and mom, Mrs. Laurelin Varieur, an English teacher at Troy High School in Fullerton, California, offers her honest advice. She says, “Social media does not help anxiety or loneliness. Limit yourself! It is not a representation of real life.” Varieur’s words ring with truth. In a digital age, nothing is more common than to find teenagers spending hours scrolling on Instagram or TikTok, seeking distraction from anxiety. Instead, trapped in endless cycles of loneliness and comparisons, teens cannot face their troubles. So, it is best to replace online interactions with live ones. By doing this, together, students can make new, joyful, and in person memories with each other.
For adults, Varieur encourages parents to first listen to their children. She shares how, as parents, it is so easy to correct and give “right” answers. But to communicate effectively and establish trust, listening would instead lead to increased confidence. For teachers, it remains crucial that they make conscious efforts to take pulse of the class. Being alert to recognize needs for students’ personal good can make all the difference. Creating conscious spaces for students to relax and play?after all, kids are kids.
Mary Kim, Grade 10,
Troy High School