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Thursday, December 03, 2020

Youth November Forum Wrap: Navigating Support Services in an Evolving Digital Environment

Guest Author, Blog, The City Club of Cleveland

by Praveen Kumar, Junior, Hawken School

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into all of our lives. Specifically for children, this meant the complete transition from in-person to remote school, which posed an abundance of concerns for millions of parents all over the country. Would their child learn properly? Would their child maintain adequate human connection and interaction? Would their child be protected from the harmful effects of technology overuse? Several of these essential questions were answered in our Youth Forum Council November Forum, entitled, “Navigating Support Services in an Evolving Digital Environment.”

Rebecca Biggar stated, “It’s hard for all of us in this time.” She continued by stressing the fact that teachers and students should be supportive of one another and continue to form strong bonds in order to maintain strong mental health during such challenging times. Dr. Marsheena Murray furthered by stating, “We need to find new ways to connect - whether it be 8 feet apart in someone’s backyard, going to Swenson’s, or even going to a drive-in theater.” Adolescents and teens need to continue being in constant contact and communication with one another in order to mitigate the negative effects of fully remote learning and fully remote activities. Therefore, all three of our guest speakers noted that with students adapting to technology on a full-time basis, it is important for teens to maintain their connections to their peers, teachers, and family members in creative ways.

Dr. Ashley Poklar furthered the importance of mental health among teens by stating, “These conversations with students need to happen and schools need to support these conversations, such as through therapy sessions.” A remote environment fully limits the in-person interactions and communication amongst adolescents and people of all backgrounds and identities can be negatively impacted. The main message of the forum was to continue building our relationships with our most trusted ones - and building new ones - in order to maintain the most positive and strong mental health among teenagers. Hopefully, we can learn a lot from these experts in methods to stay as relaxed as possible in such trying times.

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