Older adults are not the only ones experiencing stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. For teens and young adults practicing social distancing, stressors may be experienced because of the numerous disappointments they are facing, according to Linda Inmon, Extension associate-family and consumer sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“They are missing such things as their high school and college graduations, weddings and other major milestones and life experiences,” Inmon said. “This has caused many of them to become disappointed, sad and even frustrated.”
It is important to not minimize their losses because many of them may not understand the importance of social distancing, she said.
“They do not have the ability to control their executive functions related to planning and future consequences, which causes them to act impulsively,” Inmon said. “The area of the brain that controls those functions is not fully developed until their mid to late 20s.”
According to Dr. Michelle Drouin, a professor of psychology at Purdue University Fort Wayne and senior research scientist at Parkview's Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, Gen Y and Zers defy the rules of social isolation and laugh at the older generations for being too cautious. Many teens and young adults believe COVID-19 will not affect them because they are invincible.
Parents can help them understand the need for social distancing by helping them find reliable sources of information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov), Inmon said. Sites such as this explain why it is important not only for them, but also for the protection of others.
“As parents, allow them to discuss their feelings about COVID-19, social distancing and the loss of special moments in their life,” she said. “Since teens and young adults are in the stage of finding out who they are and where they fit in the world, discuss how to give them private time while respecting the rights of others.”
Continue to help them establish routines, practice good nutrition, exercise and creatively connect with their peers, Inmon said.
“This is a time in their lives when they want you involved the least but need you the most,” she said. “Be there to listen and provide knowledge and wisdom when needed.”
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.