Isolation, numbing the brain with boredom, has serious effects that take a toll on the human mind and body. Humans are hardwired to interact socially with others, so when placed in isolation the results can permanently impact their social lives (Science Alert). Known worldwide for its escalating cases, the Coronavirus has forced the majority of the human population to self quarantine. Solitude can be extremely damaging to not only a person’s mental health but also to his or her social and emotional life (Wired). Chipping away at their social lives, quarantine has affected adolescents more than any other generation. This kind of loneliness has taken away teens’ ability to socialize and experience human contact. Research shows that socially isolated people tend to be less capable when dealing with stressful circumstances; they are more likely to be depressed, and divisions in friend groups are more common due to the surrounding circumstances (Wired). Despite the negative, many adolescents have shown a measure of personal growth. They convert the negative circumstances to positive outcomes: personal growth, increasing connection with family, and a better physical wellbeing.
Today’s world mainly focuses on its social aspect. As adolescents place more and more importance on their friends, their social lives begin to override all other parts of their life. After months of quarantine, beginning in March, many adolescents have noticed a recent drift away from their friends. Because of their inability to meet up, many teens have been forced to remain online and reinforce their friendships virtually (Wired). Studies show that the repeating patterns that have emerged from isolated experiences illuminate the different ways in which teens have been affected. Frida Alalu says “I am not that excited to go back to school because I’m a little nervous to see my friends. I feel like I’m going to a brand new school again.” This description shows how self-isolation has eaten away at the social opportunities adolescents need. Another student speaks his thoughts: “I don’t want to go back because I’m more comfortable at home, plus I’m nervous to talk to my friends after keeping conversation over the phone for so long. My friend group has really drifted and we barely talk now, so I’m really scared to start school in person again,” says Leon Serfaty. Quarantine has not only consumed adolescent’s social lives, but it has also accustomed them to work in a sedentary style. The new normal is now to sit at a desk, working on the computer for 90% of the workday. This new comfort has created a mindset in students as they become accustomed to a desk-bound life. Many high school students are being emotionally affected by this worldwide quarantine, as their emotions scramble to find a balance before the start of physical school. The outcomes of quarantine are more extreme than anyone expected, affecting not only the world’s way of working, but also the mindset of developing teenagers.
Opposing the negative aspects of quarantine, some may say they enjoy it. Over these few months, many reports have indicated that people used this isolation as an opportunity to grow and improve. Seen specifically in adolescents, people have increased their physical activity levels and have built a stronger connection with family members. Studies show that many families have grown closer together because families with children are forced to quarantine together. In these cases, the children don’t have much to do but bond with each other. This quarantine has given families like these a huge opportunity to dedicate time to one another instead of focusing on their individual social and educational lives. It has been found that adolescents have a more fond appreciation for their families now in quarantine. “I appreciate my family more than ever because I realized they are the most important people in my life,” says Stephanie Wolak. Many teens take their families for granted in this stage of their life, but due to these peculiar circumstances, they have a greater understanding of family and its bond. Another Hillel student, Tali Fiske, says that she feels a stronger connection with her siblings because they came home from college to quarantine together. “I am really grateful for this opportunity I received to spend more time with my older siblings.” Additionally, this quarantine allowed people to begin working out and focusing on their physical well being too. Student Alan Wainer says “I have created a routine workout every day now and I have made it into a natural habit I can’t live without anymore.” Many people have reported an increased amount of physical activity in their daily schedule that wasn’t seen before. Instead of squandering time on snacking or television, people have now substituted their time with a healthier habitual activity: exercise. Seen as an opportunity, many adolescents seized the chance in personal growth and are now mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to see their friends and return back to their regular lives.
As the end of quarantine shines a light on its never ending tunnel, we bear close to the end of it. Technology is improving, making the Coronavirus more withstandable and now allowing many students to return back to physical school. Through both the negative and positive aspects of this quarantine, we not only see the mental toll it takes on the social lives of developing adolescents, but we also see the personal growth that can come out of circumstances like these. Withstanding Coronavirus, as Hillel returns to physical school, there is no doubt that students will face major struggles regarding friends, social interactions, and stressful situations. With all this set aside, a consensus can be reached agreeing that people have definitely come out of this quarantine stronger, both physically and mentally. Hillel students are ready and excited to return to their daily lives – disregarding the initial struggles – with the stronger mindset that developed over the past few months.