To update you on the latest in memes, fashion trends, gen-z celebrity drama, and social causes that your teens are most interested in would seem wildly tone-deaf to the circumstances we’re all confronting as March comes to a close and we enter into peak springtime season. And to act as if there is substantial noteworthy news in each of those areas that don’t have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic would just be ignorant. So welcome to a special COVID-19 edition of the teen culture update. Instead of regaling you of culture that teens are interacting with, receiving, and creating, we’ll take a look at how some of those areas of culture are being impacted by the virus.
The negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on your teens’ lives can’t be understated: they’ve been forced into isolation, many of them are having to deal with losses of major events or memories they should be making, and some of them have said goodbye to their friends without knowing when they’ll get to see them again. But now — as your teens have settled into online classes, virtual hangouts, and probably way more social media, video games, and general screentime than usual — there are a few things to be on guard about.
Now, more than ever, teens are facing the temptation to combat loneliness in isolation with all the wrong things. It is important to encourage your teens to keep track of their screentime — it’s inevitable that it will be going up during this season, as the majority of their lives will take place on their screens. However, they should look for ways they can break up the virtual connection in order to remain mentally healthy. Additionally, it’s worth noting that porn sites have responded to the social distancing we’re all practicing by offering free subscriptions; if you haven’t yet breached this conversation, now might be a good time to. If you use any monitoring or filtering resources, confirm that those are working properly. It’s a tough moment for all of us, but by taking enough walks, intentional conversations, and maintaining relationships through digital means as best as we can, we’ll get through it.
Creativity: New Culture
The consequences of COVID-19 aren’t all bad, however. Due to the forced isolation, everyone is having to get creative about everything. For your teens, everything from social gatherings, to movie watching, to social media content has shifted. And the result is a lot more space for those artistic teens to unleash some of their most creative work.
So if you haven’t yet, encourage your teens to dive a little deeper into whatever creative channel they’re most naturally passionate about. There’s more time now than ever for them to hone in on those skills and our world has never been more ready to receive, critique, and celebrate their work. Encourage them to try new things, share them with their friends and on their social media channels, and aim to improve from there.
Smiling Through the Pain
Finally, as I’ve noted on the last few blogs I’ve written here, teens are still turning to sarcastic jokes to carry them through this moment. While global leaders try to set up strong systems that can withstand this pandemic, and while any sense of normal has vanished, teens are still meme-ing this moment. I don’t think we should fault them for this — today’s high school seniors were born shortly after 9/11 and their senior years have been cut short due to the Coronavirus — they need something to carry them through the tragedy that has marked the end of their high school career. However, again, I’d challenge you to seek an entry point into their sarcastic reactions. Create environments and facilitate conversations where they can process what’s going on around them and seek ways to point them to Christ at this moment. The reality is that the effects of the pandemic won’t end anytime soon, but we have a Savior who is still with us and who is still good through it all. Lead your teens to Him during this time.