As children get older, they tend to spend more time with their friends outside of school. During a pandemic, that can also mean more potential opportunities for exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“I encourage families to know who your kids are spending time with. By knowing their exposures, you can know if they are around anyone potentially sick,” said Terry Ho, MD, an OSF HealthCare pediatrician.
Talk with your teens about how their exposures put themselves – and others – at risk. Having a smaller circle or “pod” of friends who they interact with in person can help lower their risk.
Encourage them to stay connected with their friends through digital communication as well, such as video chats, texts or others apps that can create social connection.
Factors to consider
Socialization is an important part of a teenager’s life. It’s normal and healthy for kids to want to spend time with their friends.
The current pandemic means nearly every activity outside of our home comes with at least some level of risk, but some activities and situations may have higher risk levels than others.
Dr. Ho encourages parents and teens to consider these questions before making plans with a large group:
- Is a large gathering necessary? Could I participate in this activity in a smaller group, or could it be held virtually?
- Is there an increased risk of illness if I go? Activities that are indoors or involve being in close physical proximity to others are more likely to spread germs.
- Will this potentially lead to quarantine and time away from school? Consider the risks and consequences of exposure to COVID-19 (or any illness). If you’re exposed to a person who turns out to be infected with COVID-19, you may be required to stay home and isolate and miss school or other activities.