Teenagers are starting to feel the fatigue of COVID recently and are not social distancing with their peers, wearing masks, or sanitizing nearly as much as they were at the start of the quarantine. Because of this fatigue, everyone may have to face harsher restrictions due to the recent surge in COVID cases.
Much of the teenager lifestyle involves a lot of socializing, so when you try to take away or drastically change it, resistance and push back is to be expected. Much of this is also to blame on the teen brain. Dr. Judith G. Edersheim, a publisher for USA today, says that the areas of the brain responsible for basic drives and reward-seeking behavior mature first, before the areas controlling more complex actions like impulse control, planning and complex reasoning. Edersheim went on to say that, “the latter area, called the prefrontal cortex, is not yet fully developed in adolescence. In fact, it doesn’t finish developing until around the mid-20s.” Much of the current COVID rules do not take into account the teenage brain.
“Inherently, adolescents want to be together,” said Catherine McDonald, a School of Nursing researcher who studies teenagers and distracted driving. “They’re at a developmental stage when peer relationships are really important. That’s why some of this is really hard for them. They can’t be physically with their peers and friends,” said McDonald. That being said, whoever is making all the COVID rules needs to keep in mind the teen brain and try to push the other COVID measures, such as hand sanitizing and mask wearing as much as possible, as social distancing is very hard to enforce. Teenagers are known for how much they love to socialize with one another.
Teenage brains are not meant to be without social connections. So, when teenagers are asked to be physically distant with their peers, there is a lot that can go wrong. It does not seem like much to ask for, but when you put yourself in a teenager’s shoes, you begin to realize why social distancing is so hard for them. “Despite the uprising cases of COVD-19, as a teenager myself, it is inevitable for us to overlook the fun and joy this upcoming season gives. We all want laughter and company especially this Winter,” Said Christian, a Riverside Student. “but we all need to set aside our entertainment to protect ourselves from a possible eminent danger.” Christian continued to say.
Although the teen brain is developing and resists rules, if everyone works collectively and gets their act together, especially teenagers, we may be able to have some semi-normal months before a vaccine is developed. However, with how it’s going at this rate, we may not even have a real Christmas this year. The real responsibility is on teenagers and young adolescents right now, they are crucial to the outcome of this pandemic, whether that be good or bad.