Keeping teenagers engaged during Corona lockdown

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo/PD/File

Simon Mwangi   

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it numerous challenges to all sectors of society especially with governments across the world adopting various measures to deal with it.

One of the most hit groups is the school-going teenagers, who now have to contend with a new way of doing things where they have a lot of time on their hands but with restrictions on how that time can be utilised. 

With schools closed and academic activities shifting online, teenagers must devise new ways of socialising almost devoid of the usual physical contact. 

Sports is one of the sectors that has suffered the ravages of the pandemic thanks to social distancing.

In a paper examining the involvement of students in sports activities during the school holidays, researchers found that engaging in a sport teaches teenagers many valuable life skills including leadership, the value of teamwork and cooperation.

Athletic teens also learn how to handle stress and pressure, set and work hard to reach a goal. Playing a sport allows teenagers to build relationships with their coaches and peers. 

In majority of estates within Nairobi for instance, teenagers can be seen grouping and engaging in normal sporting activities synonymous with how they behave during school holidays.

While this is risky with respect to the spread of coronavirus, it is pointer to the arduous task that parents have to contend with, keeping teenagers indoors.

The biggest challenge is the youth’s understanding of how they can enjoy their favorite sports activities while maintaining social distance.

Apart from those engaged in activities such as dancing and lone jogging, most games enjoyed by this cluster are usually group activities and which involve heightened physical contact.

So, what happens in these challenging times where even adults are openly defying the social distancing protocols?

The ball is thrown back to parents who now have to  assist teenagers set goals to stay on track.

Parents can assist these young ones set daily routines surrounding their sleep, nutrition, or overall fitness.

If there are specific process skills related to their sports interest that they can work on, parents should have them concentrate on such.

Additionally, games and sports teachers can work together with parents and enrich training ideas to work on at home for their sport.

This also must be coupled with healthy eating for it to make sense and add value to these adolescents.

This time provides a golden opportunity for parents to bond with their teenagers and involve them in family activities for purposes of keeping them busy.

The youths can be enlisted in carrying out tasks such as re-arranging the house, cleaning, looking after animals and such involving schedules.

This goes a long way in helping to deal with the monotony associated with having too much time on their hands without supervision. It also helps create a sense of responsibility.

Research conducted in March last year found out that Kenya has a 91 per cent penetration of mobile subscriptions compared to Africa’s 80 per cent.

This points to exponential technological advancement in the country which mean that majority of teenagers have access to internet either through computers or smartphones.

Bearing this in mind, adolescents can be allowed to stay connected to friends and loved ones during social distancing by phone, text, video chat, or social media. 

However, parents need to put safeguards such as reminding them to check their privacy settings, so they are not posting too much personal information online. 

Playing games online with friends can also be relaxing and enjoyable for the youth albeit with a lot of caution as to the limits on content being accessed online.

In these tough times, youth also need to be encouraged to research new hobbies or skills to learn as a way of rediscovering their abilities. 

Truth is, teenagers need psychosocial support during this period to ensure they do not slip into risky behaviour.

Even with all the health protocols in place there is still room for parents and other stakeholders to continually keep engaging the youth [email protected]

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