How important are social relationships with young people
For the formation of their own identity, it is important that young people can exchange ideas directly with their peers. By being with their peers, young people agree on their own values and opinions. Due to the Corona crisis, physical contact outside of the family is restricted. It is clear that maintaining social relationships digitally poses challenges for children, adolescents and adults.
How strictly social distancing is adhered to during the Corona crisis and which people are met differs from family to family. "Because direct encounters are only possible to a limited extent, the family becomes a kind of microcosm," explains Isabel Willemse. The media psychologist believes that it is important that children and, above all, young people have the opportunity to break out of this microcosm so that they can exchange digital experiences with their peers without being disturbed, despite being close to the family.
The pitfalls of indirect communication
The digital exchange has limits and presents young people and children with new challenges. Isabel Willemse points out how easily misunderstandings can arise with written messages. Even on a phone call or video call, many nuances are lost that are normally recognized by voice, body language, and facial expressions. The fact that young people have to learn to communicate clearly with one another can also be a great opportunity.
Variety is also important in online exchanges. It is now evident that channels such as Instagram are a rather one-sided form of communication. “It doesn't always have to be an intensive telephone conversation for two,” says the media psychologist. If a meeting is not possible, you can also spend time together digitally and, for example, adjust the camera while tidying up the room, drawing or watching a film. So it feels a bit like an offline encounter. It is also important to make young people aware that they should not forget to turn off the camera at certain moments, for example when they are changing. Isabel Willemse is convinced that restrictions give space to find creative solutions and develop new ideas. The game “City, Country, River” or other age-appropriate games, for example, are ideal for an entertaining round via video conference.
When there is no physical closeness
Young people sometimes use sexting in order to still create closeness over the distance. Education about sexting and the danger that images are made public and misused is needed. You can find more on the subject of “sexting” in the article “When sexting becomes public”.
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